Poland agrees to host US ABM systems; Wants NATO base too - Page 4 - Politics Forum.org | PoFo

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By Shade2
#1445778
LOL cold war hangover there, oh oh oh watch out your not thinking about the Germans to the west, the fourth reich is coming!

I am thinking more about murdered journalists in Russia and Chechen population being massacred. Not to mention Russia's activity in Belarus or Ukraine.
True the US already has a presance in Europe and has done so for a long time, still doesnt mean that I like it or that I think its nessasary.

While you may not like that there is somebody capable of defending people from Russian slavery, others might be of different opinion.
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By Typhoon
#1445811
None of those issues really point to an imperial Russia ready to march over Europe Shade, the idea that the Russians want to enslave you all is comic and unjustified.

Polands treatment under the SU was poor but so was the treatment of many Russians, reconsiliation and cooperation is what is needed now, not building barriers to relations like ABM just because the US wants you to. Hosting ABM doesnt benifit Poland or Europe in any real way and to be fair doesnt really defend you from the Russians either (if that threat even existed).
By Shade2
#1445825
None of those issues really point to an imperial Russia ready to march over Europe

Russia already enforced its rule against once enslaved regions like Chechnya. Its growing demands towards Baltic states and Ukraine speak of its nationalism and imperalism. In light of those actions it is better to be prepared then defenceless.
Polands treatment under the SU was poor

Parading Polish policeman on parade wagons with their stomachs slashed open to show inner organs I wouldn't describe as "poor".
Not that Russian Empire didn't enjoy things like mass murdering Polish children(Praga Massacre).
but so was the treatment of many Russians

Perhaps, but they don't seem to regret it judging by their nostalgia for this genocidal regime.


reconsiliation and cooperation is what is needed now

How cute, naive words. Russia can start showing peace gestures by freeing poeople in Chechnya, removing its forces from Belarus and ending economic blackmail of other countries.

not building barriers to relations

Oh cute once more-the evil barrier to hordes of peace loving , love giving Russian missiles.


like ABM just because the US wants you to.

Poland and its politicians want it too also.


Hosting ABM doesnt benifit Poland or Europe

I fail to see how it benefits geological formations. As to Poland it benefits it in very significant way, which I am sure you dislike-in any event of invasion against Poland the invading side will be in conflict with USA also-which I am sure the peace and love-giving Russians are quite aware of.
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By Typhoon
#1445884
Sorry you carry such a chip on your shoulder Shade, just dont hold you breath waiting for that invasion!

Yes with NATO membership you do get protection against hostile action, though all the ABM defences will earn you is an incoming munition and a fireball over Poland (I do mean the geological area this time in case you miss the context) regardless of if your involved or not!
By stalker
#1445941
Shade, like Matthew, seems like quite an amusing character. I think we'll get along famously.
By Piano Red
#1446181
Typhoon
Terminal ABM interceptors were deployed in limited numbers during the cold war, the Moscow ABM system being a survivor from that period.


Whaaat?

The Moscow ABM Interceptor coverage envelopes are hardly Terminal. They have both endo and exoatmospheric ranges.

I tried to find a good pic to illustrate that point but was out of luck.

The problem was the cost to provide nationwide coverage


Firstly you have to realize that in any such ABM defenses, the majority of the cost lies in the system, not in the weapons that equip that system. The "system" is called the "Ground Environment" (thus ADGE - Air Defense Ground Environment for air defense networks and MDGE - Missile Defense Ground Environment for ABM networks) and consists of the sensors, missile launchers, command & control networks, maintenance and support facilities etc., etc.

Compared with the cost of the Ground Environment, the actual cost of the missiles is pretty much inconsequential, its about 10 percent of the total. Once the Ground Environment is established, adding extra missiles to it is a relatively simple and inexpensive operation. Thus, a "thin" missile screen can become a "thick" missile screen very easily.

This was a matter of great concern during the 1970s and 1980s due to US fears that the Soviet Union would stage a "breakout". That is suddenly start to add large numbers of missiles to the Ground Environment established by the missile defense system surrounding Moscow and thus create a capable defense against US missiles before we could respond. There was a lot of evidence (ambiguous as it was, but strategic evidence always is) that the extensions to the Moscow Defense Ground Environment were being built for that purpose and that a "breakout" was on the cards.

Hence the increased emphasis which the US responded with to make it's nuclear Triad and First Strike capabilities (especially SLBMs) more diverse and redundant.

and the enemy could just increase the number of warheads to saturate the target, the MIRV.


Terminal interceptors can be saturated by MIRV/decoys or an increase in missiles on target. Finally mid course avoidance can be accomplished by saturation, using a staggered ballistic profile, or just dont have a ballistic profile at all! Not to mention the other aspects of an arsenal that ABM does not even cover.


Thought i'd address both of these points together. They're an all too common mis-interpretation of how ABM systems work i'm afraid.

They can be very effective. To give you some idea of how much so, when the US first began to design a system intended to stop manned bombers (an ADGE) in the early-late 50s the designers considered themselves as having done very well if they could stop 40 percent of the inbound aircraft - and no air defense system in history has ever shot down more than 20 percent of an inbound air offensive.

However as time moved on (and parallel advancements in ballistics and guidance system technologies were made) the new concepts of the proposed MDGEs were able to confidently predict kill rates in the high 90 percent region for each layer of the system.

ICBMs are very easy targets, technically it doesn't even take an interceptor with an autonomous guidance system to hit them. Which leads me to addressing the old chestnut about swamping the ABM shield with MRVs or MIRVs that almost always comes up again. That really doesn't work; the EKVs carried onboard the GBIs simply shoot the bus down before it discharges its warheads.

Contrary to misperceptions, MRVs and MIRVs were not introduced as an anti-ABM precaution, their roots lie elsewhere. In fact MRV and MIRV technology are only viable in the absence of an ABM system; one of the internal logics behind the anti-ABM movement in the 1970s was specifically to make MRV and MIRV viable since they were desirable for other reasons.

Russia has demonstrated all of these capabilities as well as a desire to modernise and suppliment its arsenal, so decaying is not really the best term to use today. Also this is definately not a case of Russian agression but a case of US agression, Russia in my opinion has a more mature way of handelling the nuclear issue, a proven way of ensuring safety, that of deterrent. Russian agression has always been as a responce to the actions of the west.


You're right, "strategic atrophy" is probably the more operative word.

You see in the period when the USSR crumpled into nothingness from 1986-91 it took down most of its strategic forces with it. Some were obsolete and on the verge of dying anyway, some was brand new and needed a lot of money to complete development and deploy (which the Russians still have trouble with now I might add), others needed support. Some bits were built in areas that were becoming (or had become) independent. The whole lot just utterly fell apart.

Now, truth be told, the USSR (and now Russia) had those strategic forces as its only claim to being a Great Power. The USSR was famously described as being "Upper Volta with rockets" and that's as true today as it was in the 1980s. Economically, politically, Russia is, at best, a regional power of somewhat less significance than France. Only its arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons makes any change to that assessment.

So, when Putin came to power after Yeltsin and wanted to maintain and re-assert Russia's status as a Great Power, he had to stabilize and rebuild the country's strategic nuclear forces. Now, we come back to point one. Just like defensive missile systems, offensive missile systems also have a Ground Environment (OMGE - Offensive Missile Ground Environment) and, like defensive systems, the actual weapons are only a tiny proportion of the cost of the system as a whole. (As I say, think systems, not weapons). Now, the OMGE for a bomber force is its airfields, the OMGE for a sea-based missile force is the SSBNs and the OMGE for a land-based missile force is its silos (plus, in each case, the C&C network that goes with them - relatively inexpensive for bombers, horrendously costly for submarines).

In Russia, the SSBNs were on their last legs, they needed refuelling (not easy or cheap), the hulls were nearly shot and needed replacement. Very expensive. The bomber fleet had badly fallen into disrepair, and rebuilding it would be expensive. The ICBM fleet was also falling apart, but the Ground Environment still existed and could be re-used. Thus, going to a new ICBM solution was apparently the cheapest way of re-establishing the startegic nuclear capability that was Russia's claim to Great Power status. So, Russia invested heavily in rebuilding ICBMs, sticking new ICBMs in old silos was the cheap choice. That's why the first production batches of new missiles went to silos.

Then, horror of horrors, the US (along with a lot of other nations) started the drumbeat that led to a wide scale resurgence of ABM defense systems. Worse, the Russian experts took one look at what was coming and saw that they would work and work very well. They knew the ICBM was as obsolete as the battleship or the horse-drawn chariot. Put quite simply, it had been a three-horse race and they'd backed the loser. The US soon dropped out of the ABM Treaty (a long overdue step, that treaty was fundamentally stupid and should never have been signed in the first place) and that opened up a whole plethora of legally free options for it to pursue.

The problem with any strategic arms reality like the one Russia has found itself in is that, once one is wrong-footed, its very hard to recover. Russia had made its choice and they were stuck with it. They tried to recover by moving to rail-mobile basing for their ICBMs (very expensive, essentially it combines the worst features of sea-based SLBMs and land-based ICBMs with the advantages of neither - there is a very good reason why the US looked at rail-mobile systems, burst out laughing and hoped the USSR would pick up and copy the idea) and by developing a highly evasive, atmosphere-skimming re-entry vehicle. That has proved extremely expensive and worse yet it still doesn't work.

Although to be fair, if it does work the new RV will be flying below the intercept envelope of the land-based interceptors. Which incidently puts it smack into the intercept envelope of ship-based interceptors (fired from AEGIS ships - and there are almost 90 of them that have been outfitted by now). So naturally the US would be pretty happy to shoot down the new RVs in that scenario regardless.

Russia's finally begun to spend money on more viable systems again however, but only in the last couple of years. The first of the new SSBNs was just launched a few months ago and there are two other sisters in production. The Tu-160 bomber is also back in production with a rate of build of one per year until 2012, probably increasing thereafter, perhaps to three per year. Its not much but its better than nothing.

Unfortunately, from an American perspective, that's their problem. They picked the wrong horse, they have to live with the consequences.

Furthermore than that, concepts like MAD and deterrence will no long hold nearly as much weight as they used to in policymaker circles. ABM is the future, everyone* the world over knows this to be true (* = Those Super, Great, Major, and Minor powers plus their allies or proxies, currently involved in the "New Great Game". In addition to the other geo-political adventures in and around the arena of international relations).

Placing ABM in Europe will only roll back all of the advances we made in limiting the use and number of nuclear weapons in the past as Russia or the US is forced to develop or re-deploy nuclear defences. Where we should have been is a continued dedication to assured deterrance but with a reduced arsenal. There is sope for an ABM system but it was poorly implimented and will now waste billions trying to do something that it will be unable to achieve to a satifactory level while fostering a new age of nuclear weapon development.


The problem with that assessment is that it actually contradicts itself. It's both right...and wrong, and applicable only to the Russians. The only one who has been forced to adjust their nuclear defenses have been them, primarily for the reasons i've outlined above. In the decade or so it's going to take for them to complete the reshuffling of their strategic nuclear Order of Battle they're going to be woefully vulnerable on the geo-political scene to the advances of their regional competitors. And while the US has taken the early opportunity of the Russian's weakness to consolidate NATO's hold in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Mediterranean, and a few other areas, it has no plans of doing anything more than that.

If anything the real phantom menance to the Russians in the long term is going to be China, the other "big" (adolescent would be more accurate though) nuclear power on the block.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the bluster Putin and the Russians have raised has stemmed from their geo-political drive to eliminate the resurgence of ABM defenses and related tech altogether (something which has no chance of succeeding, too many countries have a finger in the pie right now, and I think the Russians have begun to realize it) and hiding what was a serious strategic error in trying to build the wrong system. Another point is that the Russians are very well aware that the European systems being developed will effectively neutralize their short-range ballistic missile fleet. So they're hoping that by making a lot of fuss at this point, they'll slow down or stop development of those systems.

A few other points and i'll be done I swear....

For one, Mutual Assured Destruction is not and has never been a US nuclear policy. Our policy was and is to maintain a secure and effective strike capability against any enemy. Secure means it can't be countered, effective means that we can totally destroy that enemy. To quote one of the NSC papers on the subject of strategic nuclear warfare doctrine from the 1950s: "America does not wage war on its enemies, it destroys them"

The little tidbit that can really throw some people for a loop is this: The US was never "deterred" from launching a first strike on the USSR. The underlying truth is that it never intended to do so. What we did intend (and did) was to contain the USSR, force them to engage in a strategic arms race that would break their economy and thus ruin the USSR economically. The nuclear posturing was intended to further that aim - and it worked...brilliantly. We broke the USSR economically, we destroyed its military forces not on the battlefield but in the factories and stock exchanges. A nuclear first strike never featured in that plan, the intention was always to make that strike/exchange unnecessary. If it hadn't been for the blunders and loss of strategic focus made during the Kennedy/Johnson/Carter era, the US could have pulled it off much earlier.

Moving on...technically, an ABM defense system allows a country that has both an offensive and a defensive missile fleet to threaten with one while the other makes a counter-attack impossible. That's plausible but it doesn't work that way in reality.

In reality, if one country develops a defensive system, others will as well and the geo-strategic situation carries on as normal. To put things more succinctly, I mean to state that the development and placement of such systems are no where near as destabilizing as so many people believe. No nuclear war (accidental or not) is going to get started over this, neither is the US going to develop some irrational tendency to "go a nukin" because it would believe itself impervious to attack.

To clarify myself I will state that there is one big exception to the notion I just raised. Something that lies in the fact that the existance of viable ABM defenses actually takes ICBMs off the table.

To me, that's a very good thing. ICBMs are dangerously destabilizing, they are one-shot, one-chance weapons. Once one has been fired that's it - a nuclear war has started. They can't be aborted, turned around or re-targeted once they've left the launch silo (anything stating otherwise is a Hollywood fabrication). Get rid of them and diplomacy has a better chance of stopping that nuclear war or exchange from happening. To quote a wise old man from long ago: "It's good to win a war, better to have never fought one."

So while others would be apt to make charges of me being a "military jingoist" who has a hardon for war and such, as far as i'm concerned all of the facts I state are indicative of the zero-sum world we as people happen to live in.

Beren
Is the security of Poland so important to you from the U.S. of A. indeed? If something will ever be attacked in Europe, it will be the American radar-station and the anti-missile-rocket system in the Czech Republic and Poland. I'm glad none of them will be installed in Hungary. The U.S. of A. defends Europe the most efficiently, when it doesn't tease with Russia or Iran unnecessarily.


Read above.

MatthewJ
You have things upside down like most people. The only thing that spurs Russia on is Western weakness and wishful thinking. By not taking a hard line with them and publicly shouting down their ridiculous accusations and war mongering rhetoric we only empower the brute to lie and scheme even more. We have the ability to stop their propaganda about this limited missile shield tomorrow if only we weren’t so concerned about upsetting our new ally and "strategic partner".


You too.

It never ceases to boggle my mind how you can so adamantly believe the Russians to be so much of a clear and present threat to the West. The Cold War is over.
By stalker
#1446389
@Piano Red,

An...interesting post. I've got quite a lot of issues with it though.

However as time moved on (and parallel advancements in ballistics and guidance system technologies were made) the new concepts of the proposed MDGEs were able to confidently predict kill rates in the high 90 percent region for each layer of the system.

ICBMs are very easy targets, technically it doesn't even take an interceptor with an autonomous guidance system to hit them. Which leads me to addressing the old chestnut about swamping the ABM shield with MRVs or MIRVs that almost always comes up again.


The idea that it is already possible to achieve almost 100% kill probability for ICBMs is something that I've not encountered before. Do you have a source for this?

Contrary to misperceptions, MRVs and MIRVs were not introduced as an anti-ABM precaution, their roots lie elsewhere. In fact MRV and MIRV technology are only viable in the absence of an ABM system


Again, have never read about this. From everything I've ever seen on the subject, it becomes even harder to take out the warhead once it becomes detached from the missile. Thus, either a) you do like the US does and position ABM closer to Russia, where they can try to knock out Russian ICBMs before they release the MIRVs with a somewhat higher, if still low, hit probability than if it were positioned in the US, or b) if you're intercepting at the terminal phase, the only successful way to do it would be to equip the interceptor missiles with nuclear warheads of their own.

You're right, "strategic atrophy" is probably the more operative word. You see in the period when the USSR crumpled into nothingness from 1986-91 it took down most of its strategic forces with it. Some were obsolete and on the verge of dying anyway, some was brand new and needed a lot of money to complete development and deploy (which the Russians still have trouble with now I might add), others needed support. Some bits were built in areas that were becoming (or had become) independent. The whole lot just utterly fell apart.


Agreed.

Now, truth be told, the USSR (and now Russia) had those strategic forces as its only claim to being a Great Power. The USSR was famously described as being "Upper Volta with rockets" and that's as true today as it was in the 1980s. Economically, politically, Russia is, at best, a regional power of somewhat less significance than France. Only its arsenal of strategic nuclear weapons makes any change to that assessment.


Not agreed. The "Upper Volta with rockets" is a meaningless Cold War soundbyte. Unlike Upper Volta, Russia has the human and technical resources to build rockets and maintain modern military forces, and unlike France, it has an abundance of energy and mineral resources and the world's best geo-political position (central Eurasia).

In Russia, the SSBNs were on their last legs, they needed refuelling (not easy or cheap), the hulls were nearly shot and needed replacement. Very expensive. The bomber fleet had badly fallen into disrepair, and rebuilding it would be expensive. The ICBM fleet was also falling apart, but the Ground Environment still existed and could be re-used.


True, but really a) Soviet levels of these were already outsized and far more than needed for deterrance and b) bombers, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, are hardy things. It is much cheaper to modernize old models than to build new ones, and this is in fact what the US has been doing for a long time (it still fields the B-52, which was introduced in the 1950's), and it is on what Russia spends the bulk of the money allocated to military modernization today (i.e. rather than manufacturing new subs/bombers/ICBMs).

Then, horror of horrors, the US (along with a lot of other nations) started the drumbeat that led to a wide scale resurgence of ABM defense systems. Worse, the Russian experts took one look at what was coming and saw that they would work and work very well. They knew the ICBM was as obsolete as the battleship or the horse-drawn chariot. Put quite simply, it had been a three-horse race and they'd backed the loser.


Again, this theory that the ICBM is obsolete is the first time I am encountering it. Any papers/documents backing it?

The problem with any strategic arms reality like the one Russia has found itself in is that, once one is wrong-footed, its very hard to recover. Russia had made its choice and they were stuck with it. They tried to recover by moving to rail-mobile basing for their ICBMs (very expensive, essentially it combines the worst features of sea-based SLBMs and land-based ICBMs with the advantages of neither - there is a very good reason why the US looked at rail-mobile systems, burst out laughing and hoped the USSR would pick up and copy the idea) and by developing a highly evasive, atmosphere-skimming re-entry vehicle. That has proved extremely expensive and worse yet it still doesn't work.


Why are rail-based ICBM's a bad idea?

It does work, but as usual there are mishaps during the testing of any new missile. I see no reason why they should not be ironed out with time.

As for the expense, didn't you yourself state that "Compared with the cost of the Ground Environment, the actual cost of the missiles is pretty much inconsequential, its about 10 percent of the total"?

In the decade or so it's going to take for them to complete the reshuffling of their strategic nuclear Order of Battle they're going to be woefully vulnerable on the geo-political scene to the advances of their regional competitors. And while the US has taken the early opportunity of the Russian's weakness to consolidate NATO's hold in Eastern Europe, the Balkans, Mediterranean, and a few other areas, it has no plans of doing anything more than that.


Contradiction. You yourself said, "Furthermore than that, concepts like MAD and deterrence will no long hold nearly as much weight as they used to in policymaker circles." Russia today possesses a deterrant which the US cannot neutralize; it's just that the nuclear balance is currently not germane to the current historical phase of international relations, probably because for all the loud rhetoric, Russo-NATO relations are still hugely better than they were during the Cold War.

The little tidbit that can really throw some people for a loop is this: The US was never "deterred" from launching a first strike on the USSR. The underlying truth is that it never intended to do so. What we did intend (and did) was to contain the USSR, force them to engage in a strategic arms race that would break their economy and thus ruin the USSR economically. The nuclear posturing was intended to further that aim - and it worked...brilliantly. We broke the USSR economically, we destroyed its military forces not on the battlefield but in the factories and stock exchanges.


This idea surfaced only, earliest, in the 1970's, when Western intelligence started to suspect the Soviet economy was already stagnating. Indeed, as late as the 1970's, Western policy-makers assumed the Soviet Union to be a permanent strong pole and Kissinger accepted that the US would have to pursue policy of securing the second-best place in the world for America. The idea that the US was not 'deterred' is loony, quite frankly - if the Soviet Union hadn't possessed tested a nuke in 1949, the US would have surely used them in Korea. On the other hand, in that case the USSR would have stepped much more carefully.

I disagree with the thesis that it was the arms race that broke the Soviet economy. Rather, I ascribe it to its deeper contradictions (in planning) and to the tendency towards democratization which appears as countries industrialize.

To clarify myself I will state that there is one big exception to the notion I just raised. Something that lies in the fact that the existance of viable ABM defenses actually takes ICBMs off the table.

To me, that's a very good thing. ICBMs are dangerously destabilizing, they are one-shot, one-chance weapons. Once one has been fired that's it - a nuclear war has started.


However, introducing ABM defences will mean nuclear missiles being moved to higher levels of alert, and more chances of an accident. If you suspect that a) there's a massive first strike being prepared/launched against you and b) if it hits, it will destroy the bulk of your nuclear forces, while any of your remaining second strike forces will be insufficient to swamp the enemy's ABM, then you will feel pressured to make the first strike yourself - against economic-strategic targets, too, instead of the OMGE, because all the ICBM's have left anyway. The result is a) a higher chance of nuclear war and b) if it comes, a more devastating war to human populations (because economic-strategic targets are typically close to population centres, unlike the OMGE).

So while others would be apt to make charges of me being a "military jingoist" who has a hardon for war and such, as far as i'm concerned all of the facts I state are indicative of the zero-sum world we as people happen to live in.


I don't consider you that. I am quite puzzled that someone seemingly well-versed in nuclear strategy would make seemingly bizarre assertions like that the ICBM is obsolete or the reason for Russia's geopolitical retreat is explainable by the nuclear balance.

------------------------

@Typhoon,

Well not the sites in Europe but the ones in the US then yes, the ones in Europe are ill placed to intercept Russian missiles firing over the arctic to the US. However a preemptive nuclear strike against Russia would be unlkely to succeed without being detected and with the new defensive and offensive platforms on the way it gets even less unlikely, if anyone wanted such a stike then they are at the wrong time, ABM may now be avaliable but the Russian armed forces are now back on the tracks.


The US is plugging gaps.

It has missile defence interceptors in Alaska and California, which means a Russian second strike over the Arctic or Pacific may not succeed.

However, it's wide open from the east. Furthermore, due to the proximity, European missile defence can shoot down Russian ICBMs much more easily than from the homeland.
By Ripple Effect
#1446393
Maxim Litvinov

Umm... this isn't the Poles, this is their conservative government.

And they are not Poles? elected by Poles? Speaking and acting on behalf of Poles who elected them to do so?

You can actually count on the Poles and Czechs, despite their hatred of Russians, to go out and protest against Bush over this plan - as evidence by the demonstrations we've all seen.

Proving only that it is the voice at the ballot box that matters and not a handful of professional protesters that can be counted on to protest against Bush whenever the call goes up
By PBVBROOK
#1446556
I love the Poles. This is their opportunity to break it off in Russia's ass. God knows they deserve the opportunity. As they say. Pay back is a MF.
By Shade2
#1446598
It never ceases to boggle my mind how you can so adamantly believe the Russians to be so much of a clear and present threat to the West. The Cold War is over.

Russia was a threat to other European countries, Poland included before the Cold War. Cold War was just one phase of long-term Russian agression against Russian neighbourhood.
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By Oxymoron
#1446601
AS long as Russia is blocking Sanctions on Iran and providing them with Nuclear and military technology, they ahve no say what so ever in the US putting up Military installations in Poland.
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By Typhoon
#1446933
Phew mammoth post but I think I have condensed it as much as possible. Appologies for replying so late and not being able to touch on your post Stalker though im pleased that some of our opinions match up when our posts cross.
One thing I can say is that 100% insurance against attack is impossible, a percentage will always get though, none of these ABM systems would be effective against a cruise missile launched by an Alfa of the coast of Florida.

The Moscow ABM Interceptor coverage envelopes are hardly Terminal. They have both endo and exoatmospheric ranges.


Let me clarify, the Moscow ABM is designed to intercept missiles on their terminal (re-entry) phase as compared with the US mid course interceptors, they have impressive reach in altitude but not slant range which is why you will be unlikely to find the illustration you desire. Additionally it is a good time to note that the 51T6 has now been withdrawn from service.

The cost of the system for nationwide coverage is a relevant point when considering the ABM systems of the past (and present). These were all radar guided, terminal phase interceptors with nuclear warheads. The costs of their deployment on a national scale was prohibitive especially when considering the fact that they didn't ensure survival or cover the full spectrum of threats. Most of this still applies today, the cost and effort required renders full-spectrum protection improbable.

ICBMs are very easy targets.....Which leads me to addressing the old chestnut about swamping the ABM shield with MRVs or MIRVs that almost always comes up again. That really doesn't work; the EKVs carried on-board the GBIs simply shoot the bus down before it discharges its warheads.

Contrary to misconceptions, MRVs and MIRVs were not introduced as an anti-ABM precaution, their roots lie elsewhere.


ICBMs on the contrary are quite a challenge to hit (a view not made solely on their flight profile) and I believe current US test failures support this point. On MIRV's, I never suggested that they were developed to counter ABM though I disagree that MIRV is only viable in the absence of ABM. MIRVing your missiles is a well developed tactic for maximising the lethality of each missile you fire as well as providing a relatively cheap way of saturating terminal interceptors, especially when combining your warheads with decoys and countermeasures. The bus interception point is only really valid if your target follows the normal ballistic profile in the case of GBI.

Thus, going to a new ICBM solution was apparently the cheapest way of re-establishing the strategic nuclear capability...

Then.... a wide scale resurgence of ABM defence systems. Worse, the Russian experts took one look at what was coming and saw that they would work and work very well. They knew the ICBM was as obsolete as the battleship or the horse-drawn chariot...

The problem with any strategic arms reality like the one Russia has found itself in is that, once one is wrong-footed, its very hard to recover...... They tried to recover by moving to rail-mobile basing for their ICBMs.....

Although to be fair, if it does work the new RV will be flying below the intercept envelope of the land-based interceptors. Which incidently puts it smack into the intercept envelope of ship-based interceptors....

Russia's finally begun to spend money on more viable systems again however, but only in the last couple of years.


Russian policies of deploying and building its deterrent is only logical considering the situation the Russian forces were in and how they could move forwards, cost has not been the only factor nor ICBMs the only consideration (Borei was laid down in 1996). Russian strategic defence acquisitions and developments are more numerous than the points mentioned and all including the development of new ICBM are relevant to today.
The idea that they are locked into a bad decision is ridiculous, Russia explores a complete range of defence solutions, if they considered the ICBM as a lost cause then they would no longer continue its development and other avenues would be exploited, rapid change is not new for the Russian military in light of weapons performance. In any case the ICBM is certainly not obsolete and there are huge opportunities for development, considering the techniques developed to counter ABM and that ballistic missiles were the basis of the GBI just goes to show what can be accomplished with a ballistic missile either offensively or defensively as technology progresses.
I don't get the connection of how Russia tried to recover from BMD with the deployment of rail mobile systems, there developments are designed to safeguard the missiles from attack rather than penetrate defences. The criticism of rail based systems in my opinion is also unjustified, more survivable than a silo in the face of modern ICBM, they are also far cheaper to run than SLBM so they certainly do have their advantages.
Afraid I am going to have to shout "evidence" on the re-entry vehicles being a failure, the case of SM-3 is also simplified, there's too much we don't know about the new RV to say how effective SM-3 would be (though what we do know about the RV does suggest that it would be very effective against mid-course systems which rely on the missile being outside the atmosphere at time of interception). The threat from SM-3 should degrade as new SLBM platforms come on-line, you also need to rely on the SM-3 being in place at the right time and in sufficient quantity to avoid saturation.

As a matter of fact, a lot of the bluster Putin and the Russians have raised has stemmed from their geo-political drive to eliminate the resurgence of ABM defences and related tech altogether.......and hiding what was a serious strategic error in trying to build the wrong system.

Another point is that the Russians are very well aware that the European systems being developed will effectively neutralize their short-range ballistic missile fleet.

For one, Mutual Assured Destruction is not and has never been a US nuclear policy.

The US was never "deterred" from launching a first strike on the USSR. The underlying truth is that it never intended to do so. What we did intend (and did) was to contain the USSR, force them to engage in a strategic arms race that would break their economy and thus ruin the USSR economically.

In reality, if one country develops a defensive system, others will as well and the geo-strategic situation carries on as normal.

To clarify myself I will state that there is one big exception to the notion I just raised. Something that lies in the fact that the existence of viable ABM defences actually takes ICBMs off the table.

To me, that's a very good thing. ICBMs are dangerously destabilizing, they are one-shot, one-chance weapons. Once one has been fired that's it - a nuclear war has started. .....Get rid of them and diplomacy has a better chance of stopping that nuclear war or exchange from happening....


Of course the Russians don't want to see further deployment of ABM, they see it as a potential threat to rational security and as such are hitting back, the idea that it is to disguise their own mistakes is as said questionable. Its unlikely that European ABM will ever neutralise the Russian deterrent, but then again with the exception of the NATO presence its unlikely that Russia would ever need to use its deterrence in the region, the point of issue is all US/Russia.
MAD has never been an official policy of any of the major powers though they are all have to abide by its rules, as long as each side is able to destroy the other no major conflict between the two can ever realistically occur, point.
The US was constantly deterred by the USSR and you can see how the threat of possible Soviet intervention or escalation consistently stayed the hand of the US in the conflicts/disputes of the cold war. Though the excessive military spending of the USSR no doubt contributed to its downfall it is something of a revisionary statement to say that it was all part of a US grand plan, the problems of the USSR were inherent and internal, as I have said before the US comes across more as opportunist than creator.
Of course as one system is created so others will be developed to counter, BM > ABM > AABM and is probably inevitable that Russia will eventually follow suit and develop ABM systems that no longer comply to the ABM treaty. The problem is the gap period or when one does not adopt the new line of thinking, the rebirth of ABM has created a huge amount of instability and essentially a mini arms race and this is dangerous, especially if the ABM equipped nation feels it now has the capability to escalate a situation. The problem today is that there are no controls which is why some see ABM as a future threat to deterrence as a result we are trying to replace the solid improbability of nuclear war (due to MAD) with the false assurances of ABM and as you quote "It's good to win a war, better to have never fought one.".

As a side note I think the whole process could have been handled much better (but hey that's the bush era), indeed you can have you cake and eat it on this issue. ABM systems are already in limited employ around the world so it wouldn't have been too difficult to modify existing controls to ensure ABM protection against rogues while still providing a cap to ensure deterrent stability though MAD.
By Piano Red
#1447948
stalker
@Piano Red,

An...interesting post. I've got quite a lot of issues with it though.


As you should. I could've made that post a lot longer ironing out the details but opted not to, aside from how tired I was.

The idea that it is already possible to achieve almost 100% kill probability for ICBMs is something that I've not encountered before. Do you have a source for this?


I never said a 100% kill probability.

To be more precise it was in the high 80s to low 90s. However I feel I should note that those tests took place long before the "Shoot-Shoot-Shoot-Look-Shoot" method for ABM fire control systems was devised, so modern ABM tech is even more efficient than the Cold War era ones.

From everything I've ever seen on the subject, it becomes even harder to take out the warhead once it becomes detached from the missile.


Hence why the missile bus is taken out before the warheads can be detached.

Thus, either a) you do like the US does and position ABM closer to Russia, where they can try to knock out Russian ICBMs before they release the MIRVs with a somewhat higher, if still low, hit probability than if it were positioned in the US,


Which is a misnomer. It doesn't really matter where a GBI site is placed, as long as the missile which is fired fits inside the interception envelope of the GMD portion of the Shield then it can be taken out.

If Russia were to launch ICBMs at the US tomorrow then the real ABM sites that would be used to shoot them down would most likely be the one at Fort Greely, Alaska (has the largest amount of interceptors and best position for the most efficient means of interception), or the other at Vandenberg. The GBIs fly way faster than ICBMs do so once they're exo-atmospheric it's not a matter of where the ICBM is in relation to them so much as the azimuth angle they need to follow.

b) if you're intercepting at the terminal phase, the only successful way to do it would be to equip the interceptor missiles with nuclear warheads of their own.


That's very much dependant on the type of delivery platform being used.

If it were against a MIRVed nuclear ICBM than such a method would be pretty much impossible at the terminal phase. The ABM method needed to intercept other classes of ballistic missiles at the Terminal phase of deployment falls into the realm of other systems like THAAD or MEADS.

Aside from that, using nuclear warheads to intercept other nuclear warheads is a tried and failed concept that was ruled out decades ago.

Not agreed. The "Upper Volta with rockets" is a meaningless Cold War soundbyte. Unlike Upper Volta, Russia has the human and technical resources to build rockets and maintain modern military forces, and unlike France, it has an abundance of energy and mineral resources


True, some modern day historians have increasingly started referring to it as "Saudi Arabia with rockets", but that term has yet to enter the broad geo-political lexicon. Russia does have an abundance of energy and mineral resources, but that doesn't mean they automatically translate into a viable claim of Great Power status. Especially if Russia has historically never had the means to exploit most of them for its own ends. Oil naturally being the exception, but even then is one aspect that is gradually losing it's own value. At the rate it's going it has an effective half life of another half century or so.

So, if that designation is inaccurate...what are Russia's other real claims to being a great power?

and the world's best geo-political position (central Eurasia).


More like one of the world's most vulnerable positions. Historically it's always been fought over because it's easily accessible and exploitable prime real estate that's had plenty of strategic breadth, but no strategic depth outside of certain areas.

True, but really a) Soviet levels of these were already outsized and far more than needed for deterrance


I'm having trouble interpreting what you mean by that. Are you referring to their strategic forces as a whole? What do you mean by "far more than needed for deterrence"?

b) bombers, ICBMs, nuclear submarines, are hardy things.


That require a constant level of rather expensive upkeep. A financial cost that has to be projected and calculated for over multiple years of time from the period they enter service up to the day they are decommissioned, R&D costs notwithstanding. The fact is that Russia was no longer capable of doing that for those systems and platforms when the USSR went down.

Alot of the Russian's older silo based ICBMs are running out of age anyway. They are very sturdy (as most if not all ICBMs are) but every weapon has a limit of age.

It is much cheaper to modernize old models than to build new ones, and this is in fact what the US has been doing for a long time (it still fields the B-52, which was introduced in the 1950's)


True, but the Russians could only afford to do it for a portion of their existant force. It would've been far too expensive to do it for their force structure as a whole given the state of their economy at the time (and today). Even then, they strained to do so, and had to a induce a number of cost-cutting measures that hurt other sectors of their military.

That's how the military budgeting process works. The US can afford to do so for it's military because it has a strong economic foundation that can support such expenditures. Whereas for the Russians the projected decade(s) long cost it would take to stabilize, repair, and then begin to rebuild their armed forces would mean situations where cannibalizing a couple thousand tanks/aircraft here, cost cutting on outfitting troops with adequate gear there, reducing naval sorties over there, or less money for maintainance and safety protocols, would all be able to save money for them. At the risk of certain incidents where such policies could potentially come back to haunt them, the Kursk incident being among some of the more memorable.

and it is on what Russia spends the bulk of the money allocated to military modernization today (i.e. rather than manufacturing new subs/bombers/ICBMs).


Which is only indicative of the fact that they are still in the consolidation mode of their military recovery process. All while trying to keep pace with the flux of military advancement among their rivals and competitors.

Again, this theory that the ICBM is obsolete is the first time I am encountering it. Any papers/documents backing it?


There are but they're probably either classified, not readily accessible, or vaguely theoretical without going into a lot of detail.

What we're talking about here are events that are either in the making as I type this, or have been queued up for development, so you really shouldn't expect there to be a lot of written source material on them. That typically occurs after the fact. Most of the information i'm basing this on is from strategic studies initiatives and sessions where the subject of future trends in nuclear warfare have been discussed at length, usually with a lot of political and military brasshats who were in attendance.

Anyways I probably should've worded that better.

The context of what I was referring to with regards to ICBMs was in terms of the future trends and projections in military advancements and procurements that will make the ICBM less useful and valuable as a weapon if they continue (and there's no reason why they'd slow down or be reversed at this point).

I'm sure you're familiar with the axiom of military strategists and policymakers always developing their plans in antipication of how the "next war" is going to be fought. In terms of how nuclear wars would be/are fought such concepts are even more complex.

Remember, weapons are just weapons, they're tools intended to do a specific job. What really matters is the intention of the person using the tools. Now, there's another old military maxim that one should plan on the enemy's capabilities, not on his intentions and that's a good rule at a tactical and operational level. However, at the level of strategic nuclear thought, intentions become part of capability (put another way, the ability of a country to form an intention to do something is as much a capability as actually doing it.)

The only way a weapon can be eliminated is by making the weapon obsolete (by inventing a better way of doing the same job - the muzzle-loading musket was driven from the battlefield by breech-loading rifles, not by treaty) or by removing the reason for its existence.

If the cost put into developing ICBMs and their correspondent technologies and systems is made so extremely high through the re-introduction of ABM systems designed to counter them (not to mention the reduced chance of them being effective when those kill percentage probabilities are factored in). Then less emphasis will be put into trying to make/pursue them, while more is directed into making a better alternative delivery platform.

That's what the resurgence of ABM technology ultimately equates to in the grand strategic sense. It makes the entry fee into the nuclear realm of geo-strategy so absurdly high that only a select group of countries would be able to realistically pursue strategic nuclear offenses and defenses simultaneuously. Historically speaking, at least in terms of nuclear warfare, it's a massive paradigm shift that alot of countries haven't really been prepared for.

Once again, the critical thing here is that we're not just dealing with a US effort to develop missile defense systems. More than a dozen countries have well-funded, well-based efforts to develop such systems. Over a dozen more are either partnering with those countries which are developing them, or have invested in such projects in the hope of buying systems once they're developed. These systems should be on line by 2015-2020. I'd say by 2025 ABM defense systems will be widespread enough to mean that the ICBM class of ballistic missiles themselves will be of only very limited utility, while new offesive systems to replace them will still be in development.

Why are rail-based ICBM's a bad idea?

It does work, but as usual there are mishaps during the testing of any new missile. I see no reason why they should not be ironed out with time.

As for the expense, didn't you yourself state that "Compared with the cost of the Ground Environment, the actual cost of the missiles is pretty much inconsequential, its about 10 percent of the total"?



Because they're only useful in avoiding the effects of a nuclear First Strike (and the only rason for a first-strike is to get the enemy's weapons before they are launched. If a country has an adequate ABM screen, there's no immediate necessity for policymakers to emphasize a first-strike policy.

As for expense, there's also the absurd amount of cost that goes into creating the infrastructure necessary to support them. Infrastructure that isn't easy to build and maintain (tends to be pretty extensive), and has the unfortunate drawback of being easy to spot through a variety of modern intelligence methods. With the advancements made in the accuracy of nuclear weapons in the last couple of decades all the supposed advantages that rail-mobile housing for ICBMs was meant to give has gone out the window.

Contradiction. You yourself said, "Furthermore than that, concepts like MAD and deterrence will no long hold nearly as much weight as they used to in policymaker circles." Russia today possesses a deterrant which the US cannot neutralize


What's that?

it's just that the nuclear balance is currently not germane to the current historical phase of international relations, probably because for all the loud rhetoric, Russo-NATO relations are still hugely better than they were during the Cold War.


That part I can agree with.

This idea surfaced only, earliest, in the 1970's, when Western intelligence started to suspect the Soviet economy was already stagnating.


That's another traditional misconception.

On the contrary that idea surfaced as early as 1949 when the whole Grand Strategy of containment was laid out by George F Kennan (one of my all time favorite historical figures if I do say so myself). The wiki on him doesn't really do the man justice, but it does give an accurate portrayal of just how much of an important figure he was behind closed doors at the White House, Pentagon, and State Department.

His analysis of the weaknesses of the Soviet Union and how it could be brought down without a war was a masterful exposition of adavanced strategic theory, and was responsible for guiding US geo-strategic policy up to 1962 and then again from 1980 - 86. Every prediction he made came true and it's one of the great justices of history that Kennan lived long enough for his predictions and proposals to come true and for him to receive the honors he so deserved.

The 1970s period should be viewed under the context that it was a time when the US had lost it's own strategic focus after being so heavily committed in Vietnam, among other theaters like the MidEast.

Indeed, as late as the 1970's, Western policy-makers assumed the Soviet Union to be a permanent strong pole and Kissinger accepted that the US would have to pursue policy of securing the second-best place in the world for America.


Read directly above. Kissinger was dead wrong. The Western policy makers who held influence at the time (at least in the US) like Kissinger and McNamara were in over their heads.

Thankfully Ronald Reagan had the insight to bring the right people back into the fold when his administration came into power.

The idea that the US was not 'deterred' is loony, quite frankly


No it's not, it just requires you to think outside the normal conventions and dogmas that have been taught about the history of the Cold War. To paraphrase Yoda from Star Wars, you have to unlearn what you've learned.

I know how you feel, when I first had a conversation with someone more knowledgeable on the subject then me it took me a whole day to really grasp it.

Think of it like this: The USSR was pretty much incapable of doing any serious damage to the US between the early 1950s and mid-late 1960s. They could give the other Western Allied countries a terrible mauling, but their efforts to hit the US would have been pretty feeble (firing nuclear-tipped torpedoes into American ports was one of their better ideas). That strategic inability of them to hit substantially hurt the US in a nuclear conflict was a small factor in them sending nukes to Cuba.

As i've said before, take a look at the number of operational ICBMs and MLBMs the US had during the Missile Crisis compared to the USSR's, then contrast that with the Soviet OPLANs for weapons deployments. According to longterm military projections made in the mid-late 50s the ability of the USSR to inflict hurt on the US would grow steadily during the 1960s and into the 1970s.

A fact which the Truman Admin (and more importantly and the Eisenhower Administrations were well aware of; the latter Administration's game plan (which they translated into a strategy as based off of Kennan's assessments, and had the added bonus of handing off to successive Administrations) was that the US would establish a massive offensive superiorty in the 1950s and early 1960s (which we did), then hold that force level while it built up a defensive shield in the 1960s and 1970s. The scheme was that as Soviet offensive power increased, we'd increase the efficiency of our defensive shield to match. In the end the combination of containment and an arms race would cause the USSR to collapse economically (which it did, eventually).

The problem is that not all the successive administrations had policymakers that agreed with or wanted to follow the guidelines that Eisenhower's advisors had hammered out. In the 1950s and into the Kennedy Administration (while the US still had the massive strategic advantage), there was nothing mutual about the assured destruction that would take place if a nuclear war had occurred (the balance was utter destruction for the USSR and minor damage for the US, all at the cost of western europe being the sacrifical lamb during the exhange). The overall Cold War strategy was always containment, it's just that some Administrations had different takes on how that containment should be carried out. Hence the period of the Kennedy-Carter-Ford era where the previously laid out plans to establish a defensive shield for the US were completely derailed and/or scrubbed.

Deterrence was very real from the late 1960s onwards, but before that, we didn't nuke the USSR because it wasn't necessary. Basically, it was too much bother when we were pretty sure they'd collapse anyway given time.

if the Soviet Union hadn't possessed tested a nuke in 1949, the US would have surely used them in Korea. On the other hand, in that case the USSR would have stepped much more carefully.


Why? Because of McArthur's push to drop the bomb? Hardly.

A quick look at SAC's Order of Battle at the beginning of the Korean War could easily tell you that nukes were off the table. The US basically relied on surplus WWII equipment to fight that war for the most part, using Essexes and B-29s to bomb N. Korea. All the good stuff like B-36s and Midways were relegated for Europe. Korea was deemed to be a purely conventional war right from the start, adding a nuclear equation to what was for the most part a contained conflicted would've only served to destabilize it and the broader geo-political situation even more. Something that wasn't necessary at a time when tensions were already running high.

I disagree with the thesis that it was the arms race that broke the Soviet economy. Rather, I ascribe it to its deeper contradictions (in planning) and to the tendency towards democratization which appears as countries industrialize.


Well that's your prerogative, if anything i'd assert that those contradictions in plasnning were a natural by product of the difficulties the Soviets had in trying to keep up with the US militarily for a good majority of the Cold War period. The democratic underflows only came to surface as the West began to take advantage of the USSR's economic weaknesses as they became visible in the 70s and 80s.

However, introducing ABM defences will mean nuclear missiles being moved to higher levels of alert, and more chances of an accident. If you suspect that a) there's a massive first strike being prepared/launched against you and b) if it hits, it will destroy the bulk of your nuclear forces, while any of your remaining second strike forces will be insufficient to swamp the enemy's ABM, then you will feel pressured to make the first strike yourself - against economic-strategic targets, too, instead of the OMGE, because all the ICBM's have left anyway. The result is a) a higher chance of nuclear war and b) if it comes, a more devastating war to human populations (because economic-strategic targets are typically close to population centres, unlike the OMGE).


Then why has that yet to happen? The US doesn't go to Defcon 3 everytime the Soviets run diagnostics on their Phased Array radars around Moscow. The Russians never went beserk when the missile farms at Fort Greely became fully operational, and likewise for the ones in California. Hell, the Indians had a big ABM test of their own last year and the Pakistanis didn't even skip a heartbeat.

All historical precedent goes against that assumption. The usual reasoning that leads to defense conditions being upgraded to higher levels of alert typically involve actionable intelligence which must be presented to the upper tiers of the chain of command. Anything else is supposition based on unfounded suspicions of both sides trying to overestimate each other. In the end that's not worth enough to start a nuclear war over.

I am quite puzzled that someone seemingly well-versed in nuclear strategy would make seemingly bizarre assertions like that the ICBM is obsolete or the reason for Russia's geopolitical retreat is explainable by the nuclear balance.


Read above. As for nuclear balance...there is no nuclear balance. Or at least such a concept will be of substantially less significance as more and more ABM systems come online. As I said, the Russians are trying to reclaim their fame as a Great Power, and in the time it takes fro them to accomplish that they will be vulnerable to the advances of other powers on their sphere of influence.

However, it's wide open from the east. Furthermore, due to the proximity, European missile defence can shoot down Russian ICBMs much more easily than from the homeland.


Read above. The GBI missile farm in Alaska could also be used to counter an eastern based attack strategy. However I suspect that the US may well build an additional facility in Maine or elsewhere for purposes of redundancy.

Typhoon
One thing I can say is that 100% insurance against attack is impossible, a percentage will always get though


Agreed. Typical ABM doctrine has traditionally emphasized a 3:1 or 4:1 ratio of ABM interceptors for every ICBM they are fired against.

none of these ABM systems would be effective against a cruise missile launched by an Alfa of the coast of Florida.


Well not the GMD portion of the Shield no, but the likelihood of an Alfa ever getting off the coast of Florida is so remote that it's not a realistic scenario. It'd be detected long before then.

Let me clarify, the Moscow ABM is designed to intercept missiles on their terminal (re-entry) phase as compared with the US mid course interceptors, they have impressive reach in altitude but not slant range which is why you will be unlikely to find the illustration you desire. Additionally it is a good time to note that the 51T6 has now been withdrawn from service.


All true. I've actually seen the illustration I was trying to find however. Did a search for the link where I saw it from but it was broken though, and I haven't been able to find anything better.

The cost of the system for nationwide coverage is a relevant point when considering the ABM systems of the past (and present). These were all radar guided, terminal phase interceptors with nuclear warheads.


For the Soviets or the US? Or Both? If it's the latter then that line about ABM only including interceptors with onboard nukes isn't entirely accurate.

The ability to hit an MIRV bus before separation was demonstrated back in 1966. The ability to hit an MRV bus was demonstrated two years earlier so we're not dealing with an esoteric capability here. Again, I stress another key point, there is nothing difficult about shooting down ballistic missiles, they're easy targets. Technically, we don't even need a guidance system in the interceptor to do it (what a guidance system does is allows us to use a kinetic energy kill vehicle rather than a nuclear warhead but that's another long, technical debate).

I'd also point out that the US was getting skin-to-skin hits in RVs with Zeus missiles fired out of Kwajalein atoll back as early as 1964-66. Nor should I mention the other ABM programs like the HOE or SDI the US dabbled in before the wall came down which were the forebearers of the current system being developed now.

The costs of their deployment on a national scale was prohibitive especially when considering the fact that they didn't ensure survival or cover the full spectrum of threats. Most of this still applies today, the cost and effort required renders full-spectrum protection improbable.


For the US or Russia? If it's the former than that'd also be in error. The latter is working on rectifying that however. The MDGE for the Moscow ABM has been operationdal for some time now, it can always be expanded, retrofitted, and thickened up with more interceptors to make it viable for semi-national coverage. Something that I believe the Russians have plans to do.

To be honest, I'd put Russia's real priorities as:

1 - Thickening the existing ABM system thus providing a screen against China and rogue idiots like Nork and Iran
2 - stopping ICBM production and deployment
3 - speeding up the 955 class submarines
4 - building more Tu-160 bombers (they can go through the Chinese air defense system like it isn't there)

All in that order. To do that, Putin's going to have to admit that previous decisions were all wrong. Which will take some doing.

ICBMs on the contrary are quite a challenge to hit (a view not made solely on their flight profile)


Based on...what?

and I believe current US test failures support this point.


Actually they don't, regardless of how they are reported in the media and in the political arena.

If anything the present GBI program (and parallel Sea based one) has been extremely successful by missile development standards. The purpose of the tests is not to get a hit but to try out various aspects of the system, find out what doesn't work or needs improvement and then fix them.

That's why the tests are scripted, the technicians and specialists working on the system need to have solid bases of data for the evaluation of the system performance results. From most of the tests carried out to date, we know that all the key parts of the system work.

There's nothing difficult about this other than the normal problems in getting a complex system running. Those problems are being systematically addressed and solved, which is the way development normally runs. Build a system, check it out, find what breaks and strengthen it.

On MIRV's, I never suggested that they were developed to counter ABM though I disagree that MIRV is only viable in the absence of ABM.


Don't take me the wrong way, MIRV still has it's uses in terms of showering specific targets with multiple independent warheads and such. But not in countering modern ABM systems that take out the missile bus before a MIRV's warheads can even be discharged.

MIRVing your missiles is a well developed tactic for maximising the lethality of each missile you fire as well as providing a relatively cheap way of saturating terminal interceptors, especially when combining your warheads with decoys and countermeasures.


Read above. MIRVing ICBMs might have worked in the 70s and 80s under the auspices of the ABM treaty restricting any real effort put into developing defesnive systems, but not today. Any of the Terminal ABM systems being developed currently aren't designed to intercept MIRVed ICBMs anyway.

Hell, even in the early days the effect of MIRVs on the Nike-Zeus program was to simply upgrade the Zeus interceptor so that it had the range necessary to kill the MIRV bus before it discharged its warheads. That's why the range was increased from 250km (more than adequate to kill an MRV bus) to 740km (way more than adequate to kill any projected MIRV bus).

Edit: Killing the bus before it discharges its warheads also takes out any decoys or countermeasures it has with it aswell.

The bus interception point is only really valid if your target follows the normal ballistic profile in the case of GBI.


You shouldn't take scripted tests as being applicable in such a hypothetical scenario. Unless of course you're talking of something else entirely.

Russian policies of deploying and building its deterrent is only logical considering the situation the Russian forces were in and how they could move forwards, cost has not been the only factor nor ICBMs the only consideration


I agree, I tried to make that clear in my last post but I can see where you might've misinterpreted me.

(Borei was laid down in 1996).


As I said:
some was brand new and needed a lot of money to complete development and deploy


Russian strategic defence acquisitions and developments are more numerous than the points mentioned and all including the development of new ICBM are relevant to today.


I know that. I could've made the post a lot longer to cover more points but decided not to.

The idea that they are locked into a bad decision is ridiculous, Russia explores a complete range of defence solutions, if they considered the ICBM as a lost cause then they would no longer continue its development and other avenues would be exploited


It has more to do with them lagging behind the US and other powers by pursuing ABM tech as readily as they should have. Not to mention the deficiencies in their own strategic nuclear forces' order of battle that they've been trying to resolve.

rapid change is not new for the Russian military in light of weapons performance.


In this case (and enlight of the USSR's collapse) it has been.

In any case the ICBM is certainly not obsolete


I never meant to say they were obsolete now, but that future trends dictate that they will lose their value as ABM tech is adopted on a very large scale.

Think of it like this: ICBMs are in their twilight as a viable force, as ABM develops SLBMs will succeed them.

there are huge opportunities for development, considering the techniques developed to counter ABM


Such as? If those counters all still rely on ICBMs as the principal delivery platform then i'd love to see how.

I don't get the connection of how Russia tried to recover from BMD with the deployment of rail mobile systems, there developments are designed to safeguard the missiles from attack rather than penetrate defences. The criticism of rail based systems in my opinion is also unjustified, more survivable than a silo in the face of modern ICBM, they are also far cheaper to run than SLBM so they certainly do have their advantages.


Read above.

Afraid I am going to have to shout "evidence" on the re-entry vehicles being a failure


I never said it was a failure, just that the project has been delayed with technical problems and lack of funding. If the Russians do get it to work then it won't matter because it could still be intercepted by another portion of the US' ABM shield.

the case of SM-3 is also simplified, there's too much we don't know about the new RV to say how effective SM-3 would be (though what we do know about the RV does suggest that it would be very effective against mid-course systems which rely on the missile being outside the atmosphere at time of interception).


Agreed. All I was saying was that that if the RV is ever deployed it will be well within the Sea-based ABM's range envelope. The GMD system wouldn't need to be used to shoot them down, although in certain cases AEGIS BMD naval platforms are more than capable of transmitting their target information to other aspects of the ABM system.

The threat from SM-3 should degrade as new SLBM platforms come on-line, you also need to rely on the SM-3 being in place at the right time and in sufficient quantity to avoid saturation.


Not really, considering that there are 90 AEGIS BMD platforms already in service, compared to 1 (and three more) SLBM platforms projected to come into service for the Russians. That's not enough to degrade the effectiveness of the system as a whole. As for being in the right place at the right time, that's also not a problem. The USN always has ships on patrol in certain areas of the world (and relative to an interdiction position against the CONUS) to a point where they can effectively carry out their ABM role if the need arose.

Of course the Russians don't want to see further deployment of ABM, they see it as a potential threat to rational security and as such are hitting back


Which isn't true, precisely for the reasons i've already outlined.

the idea that it is to disguise their own mistakes is as said questionable.


How so?

Its unlikely that European ABM will ever neutralise the Russian deterrent


Again...how so? Especially given the strategic situation Russia has found itself in?

MAD has never been an official policy of any of the major powers though they are all have to abide by its rules, as long as each side is able to destroy the other no major conflict between the two can ever realistically occur, point.


Fortunately that paradigm is on it's way out in terms of importance.

The US was constantly deterred by the USSR and you can see how the threat of possible Soviet intervention or escalation consistently stayed the hand of the US in the conflicts/disputes of the cold war.


Such as? More importantly, beginning when?

In an abstract sense you could probably put up a pretty good argument, but not in reality. The Russians are very familiar with how the United States makes war and it doesn't involve massive attacks (or threats there of) on people. In fact, the U.S. style is to contain a situation and launch spoiling attacks that prevent the target from progressing with its plans (Korea, Cuba, Vietnam, Iran and Iraq) while allowing its economic muscle and political developments to slowly strangle its enemy. Russia's been on the receiving end of that treatment and they can see it all too easily. China is much more of an unknown quantity.

The United States is primarily an economic power; its military strength grows out of that economic power. Americans grow up thinking of situations in economic terms, it's one of our Permanent Operating Factors as Stalin would've said, they're also known as Cultural Imperatives. As a result, the US is a past-master at the "economy of force" game. It commits just enough force to achieve its ends at an overwhelming rate (which may not be - indeed seldom are - easily discernable) and no more.

Though the excessive military spending of the USSR no doubt contributed to its downfall it is something of a revisionary statement to say that it was all part of a US grand plan, the problems of the USSR were inherent and internal, as I have said before the US comes across more as opportunist than creator.


Read above. Specifically the points I made about George F. Kennan and his involvement/contributions to US foreign policy in the early stages of the Cold War. The US was an opportunist in it all though, i'll readily agree with that.

Of course as one system is created so others will be developed to counter, BM > ABM > AABM


I assume that by AABM you mean Alternative to ABM.

The problem is the gap period or when one does not adopt the new line of thinking, the rebirth of ABM has created a huge amount of instability and essentially a mini arms race and this is dangerous, especially if the ABM equipped nation feels it now has the capability to escalate a situation.


I've already pointed out why this isn't true. But if you want me to expound on why I ultimately believe the situation is no where near as tension filled as the Russians have done their best to make it out to be, then so be it.

I should warn you that we're now moving into a shady world of international relations theory (people get PhDs for writing about this sort of thing. People like me :)). There are many, many theories of how international politics and relations work. Every one of them has its cadre of supporters who insist that they have the true image of reality and everybody else is hopelessly deluded. The appropriate theory here is called "Realism" (the names may be dreamed up by people, but they're designative, not descriptive). As i'm sure you know to some degree Realism proposes that international relationships is a game where everybody is struggling to reach the top of a pile. The nation that achieves the top of that pile is called the Hegemon and its the Hegemon's stance on political, economic and military issues that shape the world.In this context, Realism is used to describe a situation of continuous conflict in which the countries of the world are constantly struggling to establish an international hierarchy, to improve their own positions in that hierarchy and to reduce the positions of others. Realism sees the world political arena as being a zero-sum game in which a win for one player necessarily means that another must suffer a loss. Under the concept of Realism this immediately draws a distinction between political and economic interactions.

Economic interactions are not a zero-sum game; it is quite possible, indeed usual, for an economic interaction to benefit both parties involved. Political interactions do not do this; even if a political agreement appears to benefit both parties, there will be an unseen third party or parties whose interests are harmed. This basic conceptual position leads to an early manifestation of US policy; a firm belief that trade agreements are more productive and desirable than political agreements.

The concept that the success of a given power in achieving the Hegemon position usually causes the other powers to band together to counterbalance it is a school of thought within the Realism theory that's called Minimal Realism. It is the dominant theory of international relations in the US Government although its challenged by Liberalism from the left of the Democrat Party and by Maximal Realism from the Reaganite Republicans. Minimal-Realism has two direct implications. On one level (where the US is not the Hegemon or where the position of Hegemon is disputed) the US should be taking a lead in forming and directing coalitions to take the existing or rival Hegemon down.

However, once in the position of being the undisputed Hegemon, it should be spending its efforts on watching for the formation of hostile coalitions and ensuring that they do not move from the formative to the active stage. Implicit in this assumption is that the US should not make its Hegemonic position obvious or exploit that position in overt ways. In fact, the US should not act as a Hegemon at all but continue to act as a leader of a coalition to bring down a selected target. In this perception, overt displays of power are not only undesirable but are counter-productive and detrimental to US interests. Another consequence of this construct is that the US should take part in international organizations, not because they are worthwhile or useful but to conceal its Hegemonic position and to ensure that by dominating such organizations they serve rather than oppose US interests.

Maximal-Realism on the otherhand, sometimes also known as “Bandwagoning”, sees the world as working in an entirely different way. It sees the Hegemonic power as occupying the summit of the international order effectively unchallenged. The other powers, recognizing the futility of challenging the Hegemon make accommodations with it; they bend to its needs and make the noises that the Hegemon will find acceptable. However, eventually a challenge to the Hegemon’s position is mounted. This may happen because the Hegemon has started to give the impression that its power is slipping either in real terms or in terms of ability and/or desire to use that power, it may happen because the challenger has grown more confident in its own power or has achieved supremacy in a given aspect of power politics.

The effect of a challenge to the Hegemon’s position obviously depends on the results; a resounding defeat for the Challenger will ensure the position of the Hegemon and cause additional nations to seek accommodations and favor with that power. On the other hand, any decline in the Hegemonic power will cause the less-committed of its supporters to reconsider their positions and open the way to seeking accommodation with the challenger. If the Hegemon suffers enough defeats and its international prestige is sufficiently badly dented, more of its allies will join the bandwagon, transfer their allegiance to the challenger and the Hegemon will be toppled.

From the US point of view Maximal-Realism also has some interesting implications. One is that the US is only secure in its position as Hegemon as long as it overtly and openly exerts that power to defend its interests and those of the nations that owe allegiance to it. Anything that dilutes the US’s ability to mastermind its own affairs or weakens its ability to act in its own interests is seriously detrimental to US interests. Another is that the US has to be watchful for the rise of potential challengers and cut these down before they become serious risks. Maximal-Realism is the political equivalent of the quote “to those that hath, more shall be given”. It is the successful exercise of power that is important for it brings with it greater security and (more importantly) continually sets the bar higher and higher for any subsequent challenger.

The Napoleonic Wars are an interesting example of the way these debates work. They're quoted by the Minimal-Realism wing as an example of how a Hegemonic power causes everybody else to form a coalition against it. Maximal realists see it differently; they see France going into the Napoleonic Wars as a Hegemon but the weakening in its position caused by the revolution allowed Britain to challenge France's position. France's inability to decisively crush Britain's challenge caused Britain to pick up credibility that grew as the years of its challenge extended without any decisive French response until the UK had enough bandwagoned support to bring France down.

Maximal realists note that Britain was the undisputed world Hegemon between 1815 and 1914 and there was not one case of a coalition being formed to bring it down. In fact, in the only European war in which Britain was involved (against Russia, 1854-55) the challenger was Russia, its challenge was so weak that it was obviously doomed and the coalition that was formed bandwagoned around the UK. According to the Minimal-Realism wing, there should have been a major European coalition forming against the UK.

So the presumption of the notion raised in that historical precedent and others), is that a secure US would cause a coalition against it is fundamentally flawed. Those cold-hearted, flinty-eyed imperialists of the maximal realist school (as i'm sure a number of posters on this forum would see them) would suggest that the reverse will happen. That the establishment of a proper defensive screen against missile attack would make the probability of a decisive challenge to US Hegemony much less viable, and thus would make the formation of a coalition against the US less, rather than more, likely.

The problem today is that there are no controls which is why some see ABM as a future threat to deterrence as a result we are trying to replace the solid improbability of nuclear war (due to MAD) with the false assurances of ABM and as you quote "It's good to win a war, better to have never fought one.".


That's exactly the problem. There's no such thing as "controls".

Arms control agreements are an exercise in futility; in all of history there has never been a single case of a weapon being sucessfully eliminated by treaty provisions. They either always come back or are circumvented by clever advances/applications of science or strategy. As i've said, the only way a weapon can be eliminated is either by making the weapon obsolete or less valuable in it's intended purpose. They're not going to be driven out of military service by treaty.

The ABM Treaty had exactly the same problem, it tried to eliminate (by dictat) a class of weapons that was very useful. The problem was that it didn't eliminate the reason why that class of weapon was extremely useful. As a result, people simply started to look for ways of achieving the same end without using the banned class of weapons. If there was truly a concerted effort made to eliminate ABM, the only way to do it would be to eliminate the reason for its existance - Ballistic missiles.

Another problem with arms control treaties in general is that they place restrictions that are frozen (technologically) in time and place. As technology develops, it out-runs those restrictions. Simple example - when the ABM Treaty was signed, computers were big, expensive and power-hungry; the guidance complexes were huge things. Now, we can put them in the back of a truck. Even more interesting, we can put them in an aircraft and use the aircraft's missiles as the ABM (or ASAT) system.

The South Koreans are playing with that - hanging a THAADS missile pack under the wing of an F-15K. Looks like it will work too.

Need I even mention that there are plenty of countries working on ABM systems now that are perfectly within their legal writes to do so because they were never party to the ABM Treaty? And that those same countries could easily sell their technology to others who'd pay top dollar for access to such capabilities?

So much for...."Controls"....hmph.

As a side note I think the whole process could have been handled much better (but hey that's the bush era), indeed you can have you cake and eat it on this issue. ABM systems are already in limited employ around the world so it wouldn't have been too difficult to modify existing controls to ensure ABM protection against rogues while still providing a cap to ensure deterrent stability though MAD.


Read above. The concept of such "controls" is an illusion, nothing more.
User avatar
By Gletkin
#1448343
redcarpet wrote:Putin had his missile tests and so on so he's the one being provocative; it's his fault.

This pre-dates Putin.
The expansion of NATO right up to Russia's borders antagonized Russians across the political spectrum, including pro-western capitalist democrats.
User avatar
By QatzelOk
#1448605
Poland to NATO: "We'll re-open Auschwitz if you need it."

Of course, NATO doesn't need it. There are new improved ways of killing millions of people now. Like contaminating their nation with poisons of all kinds dropped from airplanes. It's a lot easier to blame it on someone else if you get caught.
User avatar
By Typhoon
#1449116
....the likelihood of an Alfa ever getting off the coast of Florida is so remote that it's not a realistic scenario. It'd be detected long before then.

The point of the comment was that ABM can never provide the same level of defence as MAD because it fails to deal with the full spectrum of threats (which can rapidly develop to render ABM impotent).

For the Soviets or the US? Or Both?

Both though on the point of nuclear warheads its actually untrue for both the USSR and the US, in any case though capabilities were demonstrated non of these systems were feasible for providing realistic national coverage against ballistic missiles.

For the US or Russia? If it's the former than that'd also be in error.

I disagree, the US ABM system will be unable to guarantee sufficient protection against the Russian ballistic deterrent especially as the threat is adapted to better deal with the ABM systems involved and the cost to provide such protection is prohibitive (even then you have only countered one component of the deterrent).
I would actually class Russian priorities as continued improvement of early warning systems to ensure the deterrent remains effective and to remove reliance on neighbours. Modification of current ICBM arsenal to counter ABM by MIRVing with the new RV, improving bus manoeuvrability and countermeasures. Jointly continue with deployment of new SLBM/ mobile ICBM. Continue development of new dual-use cruise missiles, Tu-160 is a good aircraft but with the correct load the larger Tu-22 fleet could be just as potent. Finally ABM, though S-400/500 and possible extension of Moscow ABM.

Actually they don't, regardless of how they are reported in the media and in the political arena.

While moving forward from failure is obviously key to any development program you should not take progress as a indicator of an easy task. The US program has had to stumble through huge problems and technical barriers to make a system that could potentially rapidly, accurately and reliably engage ballistic missiles and as we can see they are still coping with huge technical difficulties even in the unrealistic test situations. To say that BM interception is easy would be to trivialise the effort and expenditure the US are investing in the ABM program.

You shouldn't take scripted tests as being applicable in such a hypothetical scenario. Unless of course you're talking of something else entirely.

Which I am, the current line of thought is only applicable to weapons of a conventional nature, make your flight unconventional and you essentially wipe out a whole level of defence and bring all those RV down on the second layer, make your RV and their deployment unconventional combine that with there numbers and you really in a whole new game in terms of the ICBM.
The one thing I will say is that ABM has caught the ICBM with its pants down, until recently modern ICBM were essentially the same in operation as those from the past and the MIRV was the last big development. This can be attributed to the stability of the situation the two powers found themselves, indeed development was actually rolled back as the situation cooled with missiles being De-MIRVed. Today that has changed and not only do we see re-MIRVing but ABM has kick started the development of new weapons systems.
As for knocking down buses, OBV as a true bus interceptor has demonstrated a range in excess of 5300 km far more that Nike-Zeus which is at best described as a late mid-course interceptor and would have been very vulnerable to missiles releasing their MIRV early. Buses can also carry their own countermeasures to deploy en-route as well as when deploying the RV.

I never meant to say they were obsolete now, but that future trends dictate that they will lose their value as ABM tech is adopted on a very large scale.
Think of it like this: ICBMs are in their twilight as a viable force, as ABM develops SLBMs will succeed them.

The first sentence I really do disagree with, ICBM technology as mentioned above has been static for a while now and naturally in response to a new threat we are seeing some real innovation that appears to be putting ABM on the back foot again. The second point is contradictory, ICBM and SLBM are essentially the same thing when it comes to the offensive weapon, both are ballistic missiles, if SLBM can be a valid form of deterrent against ABM then so can ICBM.

Read above.

The infrastructure point isn't really relevant since its already in place, the Russians didn't build their entire rail network nor their road network just for their ICBM, these are just national transportation methods that a missile force can utilise to provide a greater level of security than a static silo.

I never said it was a failure, just that the project has been delayed with technical problems and lack of funding. If the Russians do get it to work then it won't matter because it could still be intercepted by another portion of the US' ABM shield.

Ok but still sources, there's so little information out there that these assumptions are unwarranted. Interception is much more complicated than a range envelope and you still have the problem in that you have missed the ideal interception point when the warheads are still on the bus, risking saturation. You really do have to ask how many of those vessels would be operational and deployed at any one time, would they be in the right area and would they be in the right quantity to repel the attack, for that matter how much do we really know about the attack?

Such as? More importantly, beginning when?

Conflicts since and including the Korean War the US always had to take into account the possibility of escalation and the Soviet response.

So the presumption of the notion raised in that historical precedent and others), is that a secure US would cause a coalition against it is fundamentally flawed. .....That the establishment of a proper defensive screen against missile attack would make the probability of a decisive challenge to US Hegemony much less viable, and thus would make the formation of a coalition against the US less, rather than more, likely.

When I look at the situations we are in today I would be quite worried as a Maximal-Realist, the US is the Hegemon and it has been overtly and openly exerting its power since 9/11, the most extreme of these examples are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem it would seem is that as Hegemon it hasn't been successfully exerting its power, Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess and the US has suffered severe loss of face on the international scene though this and other issues, the Hegemon is dented.

As a side I wont spend too long but there definitely appear to be events in recent history that go against the idea that a use of power secures your position against your potential enemies. The rise of international terrorism, the SCO and in some respects the dislike of the US in general could be described as a classic case of real built in rallying against the US as a superpower and its presence on the global stage. The close co-operation between Syria, Iran, NK and members of the SCO after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan, the relationship between Russia and its former WP states as well as the rise of Russian opposition against ABM also point to rise in opposition and co-operation between states when the US (or another body) exerts force.

The problems I think with Maximal-Realism it that it can always explain away these problems by saying that the Hegemon wasn't using its power to the extent that it should and then seems to suggest that the problems faced by the US can be solved by even more extreme uses of power. Perhaps why some clamoured for an attack on Iran after the realisation of the Iraqi/Afghanistan situation hit home. The problem with this is that the US gets caught in an cycle of escalation since its trapped in situations it cannot win like the classic insurgent struggle while trying box against its fears (terrorism, proliferation) and all the while Maximal-Realism seems to demands greater and greater abuses to recover the situation. Essentially the US is using its power in the wrong way against all the wrong targets which is only going to generate more failure and damage the US further, while if you sign up to the Mini line current policy has understandably generated a whole host of new problems.

So on a Mini front ABM is bad because its only going to strengthen the opposition against you. Then again for Maxi ABM is also bad though it seems to be a correct choice on first glance as it is an exertion of power which should make it harder for those hostile to challenge the US. In reality however ABM is an illusion and something the US against a power like Russia can only fail to achieve. Though to be honest it the impact of the US ABM will as you say continue with the status quo, though not due to US dominance but more realisticaly though the Russian developments which will perpetuate MAD, thats if you consider the race and tension in between a minor thing.

Arms control agreements are an exercise in futility; in all of history there has never been a single case of a weapon being successfully eliminated by treaty provisions.

Sure the idea of control may not be airtight nor is it going to ensure the elimination of any type of weapon, to have such a view would be naive and I do not sign up to it, what I do sign up to however is the idea that while arms control is not an absolute it is an important moderator of weapons development and operation which can provide an important degree of stability. Just because they are an “exercise in futility” does not mean that they should not be used or that they should be disregarded else the world would be a considerably more dangerous place.
While arms agreements are static in terms of technical development, the proponents of ABM in the US at the moment are reliant on exactly the same principal. They rely on the points that the technical development for the ballistic missile is static and will never surpass ABM and that the ICBM is now redundant due to point one. This is a flawed opinion as new Russian developments (even before ABM has completed testing) are showing, ABM has not surpassed the ICBM nor has it removed the initial need of the weapon. Here's another interesting point, no class of weapon has ever been eliminated or rendered obsolete, they have only developed into more and more advanced forms.
For the US to try to gain security with ABM is more than anything an exercise in futility that the ABM treaty ever was, since the pace of technical development will ensure that security is never gained, the only solution for national security is to embrace the mutual insecurity of MAD, which to be fair has done a pretty good job to date.
By stalker
#1449186
@Piano Red,

Hence why the missile bus is taken out before the warheads can be detached.


Correct me if I'm wrong, but if Russia fires its ICBMs at the US, its RV's will detach somewhere over the middle of the Atlantic ocean, or ever Canada. Do the EKV's have the range to hit an RV before it releases its warheads?

If Russia were to launch ICBMs at the US tomorrow then the real ABM sites that would be used to shoot them down would most likely be the one at Fort Greely, Alaska (has the largest amount of interceptors and best position for the most efficient means of interception), or the other at Vandenberg. The GBIs fly way faster than ICBMs do so once they're exo-atmospheric it's not a matter of where the ICBM is in relation to them so much as the azimuth angle they need to follow.


Even assuming your stated c.90% hit probability (which I'm still skeptical about in relation to Russian ICBM's, which have multiple decoys), there are currently about 20-25 GBI missiles at Fort Greely and Vandenburg each. They will be saturated.

Yes, the US can increase the number of GBI missiles, but then a) AFAIK, increasing the number of offensive missiles is cheaper and b) Russia will step up production of the SS-27, which is apparently impervious to any viable ABM defence today.

If it were against a MIRVed nuclear ICBM than such a method would be pretty much impossible at the terminal phase. The ABM method needed to intercept other classes of ballistic missiles at the Terminal phase of deployment falls into the realm of other systems like THAAD or MEADS.


As I understand it, both these systems are designed to intercept short-range / medium-range ballistic missiles from a shortist range (about 200km), so I don't see how they could be very effective against MIRVed ICBMs who have released their warheads.

I've read the US plans to build as part of the THAAD system 80 to 99 launches and 1422 interceptor missiles. Is the plan to put them around your major cities?

Aside from that, using nuclear warheads to intercept other nuclear warheads is a tried and failed concept that was ruled out decades ago.


It hasn't been ruled out in Russia, in fact it is suspected that Moscow A-135 missile defence system still has some nuclear-armed interceptor missiles.

Granted you'll destroy chunks of Moscow's peripheral regions if you use them, but its better than having the city itself destroyed.

True, some modern day historians have increasingly started referring to it as "Saudi Arabia with rockets", but that term has yet to enter the broad geo-political lexicon. Russia does have an abundance of energy and mineral resources, but that doesn't mean they automatically translate into a viable claim of Great Power status. Especially if Russia has historically never had the means to exploit most of them for its own ends. Oil naturally being the exception, but even then is one aspect that is gradually losing it's own value. At the rate it's going it has an effective half life of another half century or so.


1. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Russia can design rockets. In other words, its human capital and social development is on a level with any Western country; Saudi Arabia still suffers from the scourge of illiteracy, excludes half the population from the workforce and some 75% of its university graduates major in Islamic studies.

2. True, but they can in Russia's case because it is the world's only major country that has both an energy surplus and an independent foreign policy. This will grow especially clear as Russia works to diversify its range of locked-in energy customers.

3. Which resources cannot it exploit? The only obvious thing I can think of is that Russia is currently weak on LNG technology and deep off-shore drilling. Nonetheless, these remain peripheral and in any case it is working to remedy that.

4. Perhaps in 2050 the US and China would have fallen into disarray due to the strains of dealing with global warming while Russia partakes in an Arctic boom. Perhaps we'll be in the technological singularity. Perhaps looking forwards 50 years is an almost completely speculative exercise.

5. Nonetheless, what with peak oil becoming increasingly apparent and investment into shale oil/tar sands/etc lagging, at least in the short-to-medium term oil will become more, rather than less, central, in geopolitics. Brzezinski noted this as early as in the 1990's.

So, if that designation is inaccurate...what are Russia's other real claims to being a great power?


In PPP terms, Russia's economy has overtaken France's this year to become the world's sixth-largest. Due to its high levels of human capital, rapid catch-up with the West in per capita terms is likely.

It has some advanced military technologies and its weapon sales are a useful source of leverage in the world, as are its energy resources. It also has one of the world's two premier nuclear forces.

It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council. 39% of international respondents in a Bertelsmann Foundation survey consider it a World Power, compared with the US (81%), China (50%) and France (22%). Source : http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/bst/ ... 3194_2.pdf. 37% think it will be a World Power in 2020, compared with 19% for France. So according to the survey, Russia is the world's third Great Power, which is an important fact since a) the title of Great Power is given rather than 'instrinsic' and b) is a kind of soft power in itself.

Frankly the idea Russia is not, or is a marginal, Great Power is absurd.

More like one of the world's most vulnerable positions. Historically it's always been fought over because it's easily accessible and exploitable prime real estate that's had plenty of strategic breadth, but no strategic depth outside of certain areas.


Not according to geostrategists since Mackinder. The Heartland is practically impenetrable, whose forces can be concentrated against individual regions along the Periphery.

I'm having trouble interpreting what you mean by that. Are you referring to their strategic forces as a whole? What do you mean by "far more than needed for deterrence"?


China has, IIRC, just 20 un-MIRVed ICBM's, yet it considers them to be a viable abeit minimal deterrant against a US first strike. Russia has far more, so I guess I should have said it has far more than needed for minimal deterrance.

Alot of the Russian's older silo based ICBMs are running out of age anyway. They are very sturdy (as most if not all ICBMs are) but every weapon has a limit of age.


The point is that as of now Russia does have the financial resources to do this, and that the older missiles are being modernized, according to what I've read, to be viable to at least 2020. I also think this is the main reason why so few SS-27 Topol-M missiles are currently being produced.

To your point about it being expensive to upgrade all Soviet-era forces, that is of course true and the Russian Forces have no intention of doing so, their guiding principle being in fact, according to Ivanov, to be 'leaner and meaner'. Massive conventional forces are a thing of the past. Russia is now focusing on strategic areas (missile defence and nuclear forces) and hi-tech, relatively small, modern forces able to exploit the ongoing RMA (indeed, the concept of RMA has Soviet origins).


I agree with what you wrote in the long section about capabilities/intentions, planning, etc, but I don't see how it really relates to the supposed trend of ICBM's becoming obsolete.

If the cost put into developing ICBMs and their correspondent technologies and systems is made so extremely high through the re-introduction of ABM systems designed to counter them (not to mention the reduced chance of them being effective when those kill percentage probabilities are factored in). Then less emphasis will be put into trying to make/pursue them, while more is directed into making a better alternative delivery platform.


OK, the US massively expands the number of its GBI missiles at Vandenburg and Alaska, and perhaps builds a new facility at Maine.

What will Russia do? It will massively step up production of SS-27 missiles with their evasive abilities. It will certainly continue its policy of launching on warning. It will also probably pull out of SORT and reMIRV its ICBM forces, which will destabilize the situation even further. AFAIK, building offensive missiles is significantly cheaper than building ABM forces, so this is not a race which the defence team can win at a low cost.

More than a dozen countries have well-funded, well-based efforts to develop such systems.


This is just curiosity, but what are these countries? I thought it was only the US, Russia, China, Israel and Japan that were in this game.

Because they're only useful in avoiding the effects of a nuclear First Strike (and the only rason for a first-strike is to get the enemy's weapons before they are launched. If a country has an adequate ABM screen, there's no immediate necessity for policymakers to emphasize a first-strike policy.

As for expense, there's also the absurd amount of cost that goes into creating the infrastructure necessary to support them. Infrastructure that isn't easy to build and maintain (tends to be pretty extensive), and has the unfortunate drawback of being easy to spot through a variety of modern intelligence methods. With the advancements made in the accuracy of nuclear weapons in the last couple of decades all the supposed advantages that rail-mobile housing for ICBMs was meant to give has gone out the window.


Firstly, as Typhoon noted, the railway infrastructure already exists.

Secondly, as I've said I am still skeptical about this idea that ABM is going to make the ICBM obsolete.

Granted, there is no reason for missiles to be rail-mobile if they are deMIRVed, since targetting such missiles with your own is in any case irrational (since you'll need 2+ warheads to destroy one enemy warhead). However, if tensions increase and treaties like SORT are thrown out the window and ICBMs are MIRVed, then counterforce targetting becomes a rational use of resources and railmobile ICBMs will certainly have higher survivability than silo-based, which are already very vulnerable due to amazing increases in precision.

What's that?


What, the deterrant? Well, Russia's entire nuclear arsenal.

On the contrary that idea surfaced as early as 1949 when the whole Grand Strategy of containment was laid out by George F Kennan (one of my all time favorite historical figures if I do say so myself). The wiki on him doesn't really do the man justice, but it does give an accurate portrayal of just how much of an important figure he was behind closed doors at the White House, Pentagon, and State Department.

His analysis of the weaknesses of the Soviet Union and how it could be brought down without a war was a masterful exposition of adavanced strategic theory, and was responsible for guiding US geo-strategic policy up to 1962 and then again from 1980 - 86. Every prediction he made came true and it's one of the great justices of history that Kennan lived long enough for his predictions and proposals to come true and for him to receive the honors he so deserved.

The 1970s period should be viewed under the context that it was a time when the US had lost it's own strategic focus after being so heavily committed in Vietnam, among other theaters like the MidEast.


OK, fair enough.

The part about keeping the world's main industrialized regions out of Communism seems quite an obvious idea, though. It should also be noted Americans tended to underestimate the USSR in the early years of the Cold War, a tendency that was only completely reversed by 1957.

About the Cold War:

Yes, I'm aware that the Soviets suffered from nuclear inferiority until the 1970's.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that there were some serious debates within the US military/political establishments about whether there existed a missile gap with the USSR. That, I'd think, was the main impetus to the Americans building huge numbers of offensive systems in the 1950's, rather than vague ideas about running the Soviet economy into the ground (note that the CIA continually overestimated the Soviet economy's growth and capabilities).

In particular, you say "The scheme was that as Soviet offensive power increased, we'd increase the efficiency of our defensive shield to match." But is it a fact that the efficiency, in monetary terms, of a defensive shield rises anywhere as quickly as building more/better delivery systems?

Furthermore, it should be noted that the vast majority of Soviet military expenditure was still focused on its massive conventional forces. Presumably, has the US gone ahead with ABM full-on, the nuclear forces would have expanded, the conventional shrunk and a war, had it come, would have been all the more devastating.

Well that's your prerogative, if anything i'd assert that those contradictions in plasnning were a natural by product of the difficulties the Soviets had in trying to keep up with the US militarily for a good majority of the Cold War period. The democratic underflows only came to surface as the West began to take advantage of the USSR's economic weaknesses as they became visible in the 70s and 80s.


I consider planning per se leads to contradictions and collapse, in the later stages of industrialization when it becomes too hard to fix prices on millions rathen than tens of thousands of goods. I also think democratization was both a product of increasing affluence, and internal built-up frustrations about corruption and slow growth, rather than anything the West did.

Then why has that yet to happen?


Because as it stands, the a) US ABM as it stands today is almost entirely useless against a Russian first strike and b) the US has shown no proclivity to launching a disarming first strike of its own. But these things can change.
By Piano Red
#1453472
Sorry for the delay, haven't been able to really sit down and read both posts for a few days.

Typhoon
The point of the comment was that ABM can never provide the same level of defence as MAD because it fails to deal with the full spectrum of threats (which can rapidly develop to render ABM impotent).


The error you make in that line of reasoning is by assuming that MAD is a strategic doctrine that provides some form of tangible defense.

As i've already explained in detail about, it isn't, and never has been. It is the traditional model of how nuclear warfare was theorized to play out. A paradigm that has become increasingly challenged and discredited after the fall of the Soviet Union. The resurgence of ABM technology only spells the final nail in MAD's coffin of relevance as a the conventional model.

Furthermore, ABM was never meant to compete with MAD, or the "full spectrum of threats" that you associate with it. Weapon systems aren't built to challenge strategic models, ABM systems have from get-go been designed to counter ballistic missiles (more specifically those of the ICBM class in terms of nuclear warfare). So while it may be true in the present that ABM can be rendered ineffective, you'd be wise to note that their resurgence is still an ongoing process.

A decade from now and that perception won't be accurate.

Both though on the point of nuclear warheads its actually untrue for both the USSR and the US, in any case though capabilities were demonstrated non of these systems were feasible for providing realistic national coverage against ballistic missiles.


The only reason (at least for the US) that it wasn't deemed feasible (it was very much realistic) was because of political jockeying within policymaker circles during the Kennedy-Johnson-Carter era that downgraded making an ABM Shield a priority for national defense.

As I said, the proposals were drawn up as early as the late 50s that the US would focus first on building up a massive offensive advantage over the Soviets, before then building up a defensive shield that could be thoroughly "thickened" and/or upgraded in order to ensure the MAD model of nuclear warfare couldn't be viable.

There's also the fact that with the signing of the ABM Treaty in the 70s that it became outright illegal for either country to continue with their proposed Missile Defense R&D trends and implement them on a large national scale.

I disagree, the US ABM system will be unable to guarantee sufficient protection against the Russian ballistic deterrent


The US ABM system (as it is now) isn't complete yet, it's still a work in progress. Hell, the MDGE (while operational) hasn't even been fully completed yet.

Of course it's not going to guarantee sufficient protection against a Russian attack. A decade from now though?....Well i'd beg to differ.

especially as the threat is adapted to better deal with the ABM systems involved


Like what?

the cost to provide such protection is prohibitive


Not for the US it isn't.

I would actually class Russian priorities as continued improvement of early warning systems to ensure the deterrent remains effective and to remove reliance on neighbours.


They're already doing that more or less.

Modification of current ICBM arsenal to counter ABM by MIRVing with the new RV


MIRV isn't a counter to ABM, it's simply a method to increase the lethality of an ICBM over it's target area. As for the RV (if the Russians ever get it to work), the US still has another layer of ABM defense that would be more than adequate at intercepting it.

improving bus manoeuvrability and countermeasures.


Bus maneuverability is irrelevant, they'd still be illuminated by Missile Defense radar systems, and they're never going to be in a situation where they could actually dodge or avoid a GBI in such a manner. As for countermeasures, the whole point of GBIs intercepting the bus at that stage in an ICBM's deployment is the fact that countermeasures are made useless.

They wouldn't be able to deploy at that point.

While moving forward from failure is obviously key to any development program you should not take progress as a indicator of an easy task. The US program has had to stumble through huge problems and technical barriers to make a system that could potentially rapidly, accurately and reliably engage ballistic missiles and as we can see they are still coping with huge technical difficulties even in the unrealistic test situations.


I think you're overstating things as they are. Ballistic technology has been advanced for quite some time now, it's largely been a matter of political expedience that it has never been utilized in the ABM role.

Most if not all the problems (if you'd call them that) that the US has had is attributable to having to constantly start from scratch on new systems while still taking the best parts of what worked in past designs and applying them with modern techniques.

To say that BM interception is easy would be to trivialise the effort and expenditure the US are investing in the ABM program.


BM interception is easy though, and it can be done in a variety of ways. The most expensive part of any ABM network is going to be in how advanced and extensive the MDGE for that system is, hence the cost of the vast majority of the current US ABM Shield, not the R&D aspects by themselves.

By simple way of comparison: Of the first 72 launches of the TOW anti-tank missile, all but three were complete failures. Of the 32 initial launches of the Gabriel anti-ship missile, every single one failed. The ABM system to date has a far better R&D record with which to base the merits for it's continued development. Likewise, I don't think anybody would describe the TOW or the Gabriel as failures today. To trivialize the effective potential of a working and viable ABM Shield is equally (if not more) demeaning, especially if the R&D methods used to perfect it are taken out of context.

Which I am, the current line of thought is only applicable to weapons of a conventional nature, make your flight unconventional and you essentially wipe out a whole level of defence and bring all those RV down on the second layer, make your RV and their deployment unconventional combine that with there numbers and you really in a whole new game in terms of the ICBM.


Which is impossible. If the ballistic trajectory of an ICBM were altered in flight than it's not going to be a large hinderance. It's still going to be illuminated by the early warning radars, to say the least of the fact that GBIs are capable of source programmable autonomous guidance.

They'd simply alter their own trajectories to compensate. The level of defense they provide isn't going to be so easily bypassed, especially when ICBMs have to attain a higher exo-atmospheric altitude (in line with their ballistic courses) in order to deploy to their subsequent stages.

As for knocking down buses, OBV as a true bus interceptor has demonstrated a range in excess of 5300 km far more that Nike-Zeus which is at best described as a late mid-course interceptor and would have been very vulnerable to missiles releasing their MIRV early. Buses can also carry their own countermeasures to deploy en-route as well as when deploying the RV.


Which is also impossible. A long range ballistic missile does not in fact fly a perfect ballistic trajectory from launch to impact.

The mid portion of the trajectory is flatter then the ascent and descent, mainly in order to give longer range without wasting energy climbing to an absurdly high altitude.

So until the missile tips back down onto a more or less ballistic path to its target area, it can’t release countermeasures or MIRVs. That's why the GMD portion of the US ABM system is so effective, it takes out the missile bus before countermeasures or MIRVs/MRVs can be deployed.

Here's a nice picture to help you out:

Image

The GBIs are designed to intercept the missile bus between stages 4 & 5. Long before the bus has maneuvered to the apogee of it's ballistic trajectory and has been able to deploy it's MIRVs or countermeasures (as shown in stage 7).

The first sentence I really do disagree with, ICBM technology as mentioned above has been static for a while now and naturally in response to a new threat we are seeing some real innovation that appears to be putting ABM on the back foot again.


Like what? Name one counter to ABM Systems for ICBMs that actually manages to bypass every layer of defense.

The second point is contradictory, ICBM and SLBM are essentially the same thing when it comes to the offensive weapon, both are ballistic missiles, if SLBM can be a valid form of deterrent against ABM then so can ICBM.


Wrong. One of them has an intercontinental range requiring it to go into low orbit before it reaches it's target, the other does not. One of them stays within an endo-atmospheric environment (thus giving it inherent advantages) while in flight, the other does not. One of them can have it's launch platform pre-positioned to shower it's target with SLBMs long before any sort of effective defense or early warning can be established (and if they are, they're often too late), the other does not. I could go on, but those points are more than sufficient.

I probably should've added that ICBMs won't only be succeeded by SLBMs. Manned sub-orbital bombers (such as the proposed B3 bomber in the pipeline for the USAF) and space based weapons will also play important roles as well.

The infrastructure point isn't really relevant since its already in place, the Russians didn't build their entire rail network nor their road network just for their ICBM, these are just national transportation methods that a missile force can utilise to provide a greater level of security than a static silo.


Security made moot by the fact that the infrastructure gives away any sense of security such rail networks are meant to provide. What security does the rail network provide when a number of intelligence assets can be used to detect what they support.

Or when any protection they offer can be broken and/or disrupted by nuclear penetration bombs, or simple high-yield ground bursts in a concentric detonation pattern?

Ok but still sources, there's so little information out there that these assumptions are unwarranted.


There you go, it's an old article that has a number of things wrong. But the points made at the end are what I believe you're referring to.

Interception is much more complicated than a range envelope and you still have the problem in that you have missed the ideal interception point when the warheads are still on the bus, risking saturation.


Again: Source programmable autonomous guidance.

I know very well that interception isn't just about the range envelope. Besides, the terminal defense ABM systems being built now are designed to counter short and medium range ballistic missiles, not ICBMs.

The range envelope that the Russian RV falls under is the AEGIS BMD system, which is designed to intercept MRBMs and ICBMs at any point post-Boost phase and prior to re-entry. So they'd still be intercept the missile bus regardless of whether it's at endo or exo-atmospheric ranges.

You also have to remember the fact that the AEGIS ABM system is interlinked with the other assets of the US ABM network. The ships assigned to intercept an incoming attack would easily be able to datalink their target detection data with the GMB portion of the network. The GBIs are capable of that as well, but are mainly calibrated for interception of the higher altitude types of ICBMs.

You really do have to ask how many of those vessels would be operational and deployed at any one time, would they be in the right area and would they be in the right quantity to repel the attack, for that matter how much do we really know about the attack?


90 ships have already been fitted with the MDGE equipment, just not the SM-3 missiles. Aside from that, the USN always has patrol routes that coincide with being the most probable area from which missile defense ranges could be taken into consideration, so that wouldn't be a problem either.

Conflicts since and including the Korean War the US always had to take into account the possibility of escalation and the Soviet response.


When the Soviets had barely a hundred nukes to their name? A conflict which broke out when the US already had a massive offensive advantage and was less than a year away from testing the first fusion-boosted nuclear fission weapons (which the Soviets knew and were scared shitless of) and fusion implosion hydrogen devices? Come on.

The US knew the Soviets weren't going to start a nuclear conflict in Asia. If one was going to break out at any point in the 50s then Europe would've been the flashpoint. As I said, it was the primary reason why the US fought in Korea using practically all surplus WWII era hardware. All of it's most modern forces and units, from the B-36s to the pentomic nuclear divisions, were all in Europe for the entirety of the war.

As I said, the USSR didn't even begin to reach nuclear parity with the US until the late 60s to mid-70s. Not before.

When I look at the situations we are in today I would be quite worried as a Maximal-Realist, the US is the Hegemon and it has been overtly and openly exerting its power since 9/11, the most extreme of these examples are in Iraq and Afghanistan. The problem it would seem is that as Hegemon it hasn't been successfully exerting its power, Iraq and Afghanistan are a mess and the US has suffered severe loss of face on the international scene though this and other issues, the Hegemon is dented.


Hegemony is only dented when a challenger is able to successfully rival the leading power. In addition to the other nations bandwagoning to that challenger.

Neither of those events has yet to occur, and while we could argue ad nauseum about the US exertion of force in Iraq and Afghanistan. The fact of the matter is that the US can afford to carry out such pursuits because it is the unchallenged leader within the international order. Whether it uses it's power wisely or not is irrelevant of that principal fact.

I think its also important to clarify what Maximal Realism is (the term is being misused here). Maximal Realism is not a strategic doctrine, its a model of how international relations work (just as MAD is a model of how nuclear warefare works). In a nutshell, Maximal Realism states that, once a power gains hegemon status, other powers will ally with it (bandwagoning effect) as long as that hegemon's status remains unchallenged. If a successful challenge is mounted against the hegemon then other nations will begin to split away from it and ally with the successful challenger.

More importantly, Maximal Realism doesn't differentiate between state players and non-state players. The difference is insignificant, either can be challengers and each has to attract an appropriate response to any challenge it may mount.

As a side I wont spend too long but there definitely appear to be events in recent history that go against the idea that a use of power secures your position against your potential enemies. The rise of international terrorism, the SCO and in some respects the dislike of the US in general could be described as a classic case of real built in rallying against the US as a superpower and its presence on the global stage.


Power begets power. It does nothing to prevent enemies from coming back at you through new means. The rise of international terrorism (short as it has been) is a textbook example of that.

One of the reasons behind the 9/11 attacks was an attempt to cripple the United States militarily and economically. The planners assumed that the New York Financial District, Pentagon, and political centers in and around Capitol Hill represented the sum total of American political, economic, and military power (they weren't terribly bright people, OBL himself has virtually no real knowledge of the world or how it works).

In reality, the US is a very dispersed, very decentralized country, much more so than people might think. That isn't an accident. Crippling the US in such a manner would outright require some overt attack and, as 9/11 showed, an overt attack gets a devastating response (not necessarily a military one). Maximal and Minimal Realism at their best.

The SCO is largely a red herring, not indicative of a concrete geo-political endeavor on either China or Russia's part to really counter US global hegemony. It's largely an attempt to show both powers from a symbolic position of strength in opposition to the US. There's been no bandwagoning effect of countries flocking over to join them, and given past Sino-Russian relations and squabbles i'd bet good money that the SCO won't have much longevity in it.

The close co-operation between Syria, Iran, NK and members of the SCO after the invasion of Iraq and Afghanistan


Also not indicative of anything other than the US' own overwhelming power in comparison to practically all of those countries combined. It'd be only natural that in the face of such geo-political/strategic pressure that such countries would try to rally with each other. It could easily be argued that such an event is a desired interest of US foreign policy with regards to them, given the "Axis of Evil" moniker and all.

N. Korea is contained by a multi-state coalition that includes other big powers aside from the US. Iran is contained primarily by the US. And Syria has largely been deferred for the Israelis to handle.

the relationship between Russia and its former WP states


The relationship where the Russians resort to old school bullying tactics that only resort to those countries (with the exception of Belarus) further bandwagoning to the US?

as well as the rise of Russian opposition against ABM


I've already pointed out the reasons for why the Russians are really in opposition to ABM. The rest of their supposed points of opposition are either for domestic consumption or geo-political talking points.

The problems I think with Maximal-Realism it that it can always explain away these problems by saying that the Hegemon wasn't using its power to the extent that it should and then seems to suggest that the problems faced by the US can be solved by even more extreme uses of power. Perhaps why some clamoured for an attack on Iran after the realisation of the Iraqi/Afghanistan situation hit home. The problem with this is that the US gets caught in an cycle of escalation since its trapped in situations it cannot win like the classic insurgent struggle while trying box against its fears (terrorism, proliferation) and all the while Maximal-Realism seems to demands greater and greater abuses to recover the situation. Essentially the US is using its power in the wrong way against all the wrong targets which is only going to generate more failure and damage the US further, while if you sign up to the Mini line current policy has understandably generated a whole host of new problems.


Read above. You're mis-applying the model of how Maximal Realism is supposed to work.

So on a Mini front ABM is bad because its only going to strengthen the opposition against you.


Not really, primarily because alot of that opposition (save Russia) are working on ABM tech of their own.

Then again for Maxi ABM is also bad though it seems to be a correct choice on first glance as it is an exertion of power which should make it harder for those hostile to challenge the US.


Now you're getting it.

n reality however ABM is an illusion and something the US against a power like Russia can only fail to achieve.


...Or at least I thought you were.

How is ABM an illusion?

Though to be honest it the impact of the US ABM will as you say continue with the status quo, though not due to US dominance but more realisticaly though the Russian developments which will perpetuate MAD, thats if you consider the race and tension in between a minor thing.


Read above.

Russian developments will not be able to perpetuate MAD because MAD isn't a strategic doctrine that ensures tangible results. It's a theoretical model of how nuclear warfare works.

As i've already pointed out with regards to the destabilizing nature of ICBMs as offensive weapons, the problem lies in the fact that once the first missiles fly, the internal dynamics of a situation mean that all limits are off.

There's another saying about this: "one flies, they all fly". The reason is very simple. Country A detects an inbound missile - it has three choices.

1 - don't respond at all - the launching country gets its strike in, Country A is defeated without firing a shot.

2 - A limited response - Country A fires a similar number of missiles back. But. what happens to the rest? What if the launch country has fired all its missiles - Country A gets hammered and only gets a limited strike in as retaliation.

3 - A full response, empty the arsenal at the launching country. At least the launching country will be equally devastated so it doesn't win.

In practice option 3 is the only viable choice. However, suppose a frantic call comes in "Sorry, that was a mistake, we didn't mean it for God's sake don't shoot, we'll pay reparations, do whatever you like, just don't shoot."

The options

1 - The call is genuine. Its believed, Country A holds fire disaster is averted.

2 - The call is genuine. Its not believed, Country A shoots back with everything it has.

3 - The call is a ruse, it's believed, Country A holds fire and is devastated without any retaliation

4 - The call is a ruse, it's not believed, Country A lets fly, both countrys devastated.

That's 3:1 odds in favor of a retaliatory nuclear exchange. In reality, the decision has always been to ignore the call and shoot. Now, the country that originally launched knows that, they know their call won't be believed. So they have to choices after the single-missile launch.

1 - Pray that something will happen and Country A won't shoot.

2 - Let fly with everything they have.

Follow the logic tree and no matter how one fiddles it, in the absence of ABM: "one flies, they all fly".

Now add ABM to the equation. Country A shoots down the first missile and calls the launch country with a simple message. "We shot it down. Now, do you want to talk or fry?" It's a break point, one that stops the slide.

Add in something else. The decision time high up is limited by the time for the missile to reach its target - a few minutes at best. That's what makes it inevitable. There's no time to do anything clever. With ABM, a failsafe is created that buys time for somebody to think of something.

That's just off the top of my head with regards to the pros of ABM that serve to outweigh the cons. The US and the 18 other countries working on ABM would all seem to be in agreement with that line of thought.

Sure the idea of control may not be airtight nor is it going to ensure the elimination of any type of weapon, to have such a view would be naive and I do not sign up to it, what I do sign up to however is the idea that while arms control is not an absolute it is an important moderator of weapons development and operation which can provide an important degree of stability.


We'll have to agree to disagree then. For precisely all of the reasons that I stated in my last post.

Just because they are an “exercise in futility” does not mean that they should not be used or that they should be disregarded else the world would be a considerably more dangerous place.


The world is made a more (or alternatively, less) dangerous place based on the actions, dynamics, and power plays that oscillate between the various Great Powers. The environment is not solely determined by artificial treaties is there is no brains/brawn to enforce them.

While arms agreements are static in terms of technical development, the proponents of ABM in the US at the moment are reliant on exactly the same principal. They rely on the points that the technical development for the ballistic missile is static and will never surpass ABM and that the ICBM is now redundant due to point one. This is a flawed opinion as new Russian developments (even before ABM has completed testing) are showing, ABM has not surpassed the ICBM nor has it removed the initial need of the weapon.


No they aren't. They simply rely on the fact that ABM tech can be introduced as a viable counter to the ICBM class of ballistic missiles that (in all their operational history) have never really had to be designed with such counters in mind on the large scale. Doing so simply serves to start another cycle in R&D development that doesn't necessarily have to rely on ICBMs as the principal delivery platform.

There are a number of R&D paths that could be taken, but the move away from a reliance on ICBMs in the presence of ABM is the one that is most readily agreed upon.

Here's another interesting point, no class of weapon has ever been eliminated or rendered obsolete, they have only developed into more and more advanced forms.


Agreed. Forms that have never had a historical precedent that dictated that such forms resemble or operate exactly as their predecessors did.

For the US to try to gain security with ABM is more than anything an exercise in futility that the ABM treaty ever was, since the pace of technical development will ensure that security is never gained, the only solution for national security is to embrace the mutual insecurity of MAD, which to be fair has done a pretty good job to date.


On the contrary the pace of technical development only serves to play into the US own interests. Both in terms of the economic expenditures required to stay ahead in such a ballgame, and US policy overall. From the US point of view, it looks very good. If we can eliminate the ICBM as a viable strategic threat in the presence of new ABM systems, we've taken a big step towards securing the American homeland against attack. Which has always been a primary aim of US policy.

Read above for all my commentary on MAD. It certainly has not done a good job to date in terms of preventing a nuclear war. One look at the Doomsday Clock could easily tell you that.



stalker
Correct me if I'm wrong, but if Russia fires its ICBMs at the US, its RV's will detach somewhere over the middle of the Atlantic ocean, or ever Canada. Do the EKV's have the range to hit an RV before it releases its warheads?


Yes, they'd hit the ICBM missile buses before the RV's were able to be detached.

Even assuming your stated c.90% hit probability (which I'm still skeptical about in relation to Russian ICBM's, which have multiple decoys)


The decoys aren't deployed at the stage in the missile's deployment when the EKV would intercept the missile bus.

How many times do I have to point this out?

Yes, the US can increase the number of GBI missiles, but then a) AFAIK, increasing the number of offensive missiles is cheaper


Why increase the number of offensive missiles for little or not gain in capability? The US nuclear triad is already more than sufficient to destroy all of it's intended targets (and then some). Besides, AFAIK the cost of building and installing GBIs is relatively cheaper than the cost of having to build or re-activate new ICBM silos that aren't really needed.

b) Russia will step up production of the SS-27, which is apparently impervious to any viable ABM defence today.


Russian bragging aside, how is it impervious exactly?

As I understand it, both these systems are designed to intercept short-range / medium-range ballistic missiles from a shortist range (about 200km), so I don't see how they could be very effective against MIRVed ICBMs who have released their warheads.


That's exactly what I was referring to, I didn't mean they'd be used against ICBMs.

I've read the US plans to build as part of the THAAD system 80 to 99 launches and 1422 interceptor missiles. Is the plan to put them around your major cities?


They could be.

They'll probably be adapted to mobile launching systems to be honest, just like PAC 3 batteries are. So setting them up in a variety of locations could be done very easily. Considering S. Korean THAAD tests involving F-15Ks I wouldn't be surprised if there was an Air Mobile version included aswell.

It hasn't been ruled out in Russia, in fact it is suspected that Moscow A-135 missile defence system still has some nuclear-armed interceptor missiles.

Granted you'll destroy chunks of Moscow's peripheral regions if you use them, but its better than having the city itself destroyed.


Not to mention the EMP effects. Agreed though.

1. Unlike Saudi Arabia, Russia can design rockets. In other words, its human capital and social development is on a level with any Western country


Anybody can design rockets these days. While I won't deny that human capital and social development aren't important pre-requisites to great power status, they're not really facets of that status in and of themselves.

Saudi Arabia still suffers from the scourge of illiteracy, excludes half the population from the workforce and some 75% of its university graduates major in Islamic studies.


Don't take that quote too literally. It doesn't mean that Russia is directly comparable to Saudi Arabia, it has more to do with the relative terms upon which Russia's claims to great power status can be viewed. In terms of nominal geo-political power Russia is easily comparable to any other European country.

2. True, but they can in Russia's case because it is the world's only major country that has both an energy surplus and an independent foreign policy. This will grow especially clear as Russia works to diversify its range of locked-in energy customers.


No argument from me on that, though I would simply re-assert the fact that a claim to great power status based off of oil production alone isn't going to be long lived.

3. Which resources cannot it exploit? The only obvious thing I can think of is that Russia is currently weak on LNG technology and deep off-shore drilling. Nonetheless, these remain peripheral and in any case it is working to remedy that.


I should've worded that better, Russia does have an abundance of natural resources. But has largely been restrained from exploiting them because of either a lack of political or economic will, or had other issues that took priority. It will take time to remedy all of the problems related to that.

4. Perhaps in 2050 the US and China would have fallen into disarray due to the strains of dealing with global warming while Russia partakes in an Arctic boom. Perhaps we'll be in the technological singularity. Perhaps looking forwards 50 years is an almost completely speculative exercise.


It's not a speculative exercise to point out the fact that oil is bound to be replaced by alternative sources of energy when the cost/benefit ratio of exploiting it is no longer profitable.

5. Nonetheless, what with peak oil becoming increasingly apparent and investment into shale oil/tar sands/etc lagging, at least in the short-to-medium term oil will become more, rather than less, central, in geopolitics. Brzezinski noted this as early as in the 1990's.


Agreed. But that's still no safegaurd against the need to not to solely rely on it as so many countries have, including Russia.

In PPP terms, Russia's economy has overtaken France's this year to become the world's sixth-largest.


7th, and only in terms of one indicator, even then (in terms of per capita PPP) it ranks 55th. The fact that it's economy is roughly the size of France's only serves to prove my point. Economically, while it doesn't mean Russia is a shell of itself, it also doesn't mean they can meaingfully compete with other economic powers.

Due to its high levels of human capital, rapid catch-up with the West in per capita terms is likely.


Considering Russia's negative population growth (current and projected)? I doubt it.

It has some advanced military technologies and its weapon sales are a useful source of leverage in the world, as are its energy resources. It also has one of the world's two premier nuclear forces.


Which only proves what I said, namely that those are the only real claim to great power status that Russia has ever had.

It is a permanent member of the UN Security Council.


A caveat of WWII, not a claim to great power status, just recognition of it.

39% of international respondents in a Bertelsmann Foundation survey consider it a World Power, compared with the US (81%), China (50%) and France (22%). Source : http://www.bertelsmann-stiftung.de/bst/ ... 3194_2.pdf. 37% think it will be a World Power in 2020, compared with 19% for France.


Polls are hardly are a substantial validation of whether Russia really is or will remain a world power, especially in terms of future geo-political trends. They only serve to reflect the opinions of people at the time they are taken, and can change just as easily as world events can.

So according to the survey, Russia is the world's third Great Power, which is an important fact since a) the title of Great Power is given rather than 'instrinsic' and b) is a kind of soft power in itself.


I'd disagree with point a to be honest, but that's a mater of other debate, and regardless of any soft power Russia could wield because of how it's perceived around the world, that power is still proportional to the hard power that can actually be exerted.

Frankly the idea Russia is not, or is a marginal, Great Power is absurd.


I think you misinterpreted me. I never meant to say that Russia isn't a great power. Only that as a great power it's only real claim to that status has primarily rested on it's geo-strategic military power. Power that was vastly weakened or loss after the Cold War, and which the Russians are trying to re-assert.

Take away all that strategic military force and Russia's importance and prestige internationally as a great power are more or less equal to that of France.

Not according to geostrategists since Mackinder. The Heartland is practically impenetrable, whose forces can be concentrated against individual regions along the Periphery.


I wasn't just talking of Russia alone, but Central Asia as a whole. Historically there's plenty of evidence to support that assertion, regardless of whether every geo-strategist has to agree on it.

China has, IIRC, just 20 un-MIRVed ICBM's, yet it considers them to be a viable abeit minimal deterrant against a US first strike.


I don't think they've ever thought that to be honest. They've simply always had problems with their warhead production. As it stands now even the ABM systems that the US has operational now could more or less intercept all of the ICBMs they could fire at the CONUS.

It's also a matter of them retooling their strategic nuclear forces along future trends in strategy, hence them putting more effort into a better SSBN force. Though, again, they've had problems with that too.

Russia has far more, so I guess I should have said it has far more than needed for minimal deterrance.


The reason the Russians had to "supersize" their strategic forces wasn't because of meeting some abstract parameters of minimal deterrence. It had more to do with retaining operational redundancy (offensive and defensive) in the case of an actual exchange with the US. Their policymakers had to take into consideration scenarios where either some of their forces would be pre-maturely taken out, not able to launch, or would have to hit a harden target in the US multiple times in order to crack it open.

Such notions were also the main reasons why the warhead yields on a lot of their ICBMs were made so large in order to compensate for deficiencies with the accuracy of their onboard guidance systems.

The point is that as of now Russia does have the financial resources to do this, and that the older missiles are being modernized, according to what I've read, to be viable to at least 2020.


And what do they do after that? That isn't far enough of a future force posture outlook, i'd even go far to say that it serves to highlight the growing gap between the US and Russia in terms of their strategic nuclear forces. By 2020 the US will already have had the full ABM Shield completed and operational, and will be working on revamping it's current offensive nuclear triad with more advanced systems and delivery platforms.

I also think this is the main reason why so few SS-27 Topol-M missiles are currently being produced.


The reason so few are being produced is because it'd be too expensive to open up older nuclear production facilities. The rate of production on Topol-Ms is the best the Russians can do.

IIRC I also think the SORT Treaty places restrictions on how many nukes either side can be actively making.

To your point about it being expensive to upgrade all Soviet-era forces, that is of course true and the Russian Forces have no intention of doing so, their guiding principle being in fact, according to Ivanov, to be 'leaner and meaner'. Massive conventional forces are a thing of the past. Russia is now focusing on strategic areas (missile defence and nuclear forces) and hi-tech, relatively small, modern forces able to exploit the ongoing RMA (indeed, the concept of RMA has Soviet origins).


All of which they should've been doing a while ago. I agree though.

I agree with what you wrote in the long section about capabilities/intentions, planning, etc, but I don't see how it really relates to the supposed trend of ICBM's becoming obsolete.


Because, as I said, at the strategic nuclear level of though intentions become capabilities in and of themselves. If the US (along with a host of other countries) all intend to pursue viable ABM technology then such developments will only naturally mean that the ICBM will lose alot of the value it once had. As that happens, it's again only natural that alternative offensive capabilities would be pursued.

The ICBM certainly isn't obsolete now, and likely won't be a decade from now, but as better and better offensive weapon systems are devised it's become increasingly apparent that it's days as the principal offensive tool/weapon in a nuclear arsenal are numbered.

OK, the US massively expands the number of its GBI missiles at Vandenburg and Alaska, and perhaps builds a new facility at Maine.

What will Russia do? It will massively step up production of SS-27 missiles with their evasive abilities. It will certainly continue its policy of launching on warning. It will also probably pull out of SORT and reMIRV its ICBM forces, which will destabilize the situation even further.


Then the US would respond by further expanding it's own missile farms and/or ABM sites. Which do you think is cheaper?

More so then that (seeing as how the US and Russia would be in a defacto arms race), which side is better prepared economically to make such an undertaking?

Russia and the US have been through this before. Going into that kind of contest only plays to the US' strengths and against Russia's weaknesses.

AFAIK, building offensive missiles is significantly cheaper than building ABM forces, so this is not a race which the defence team can win at a low cost.


On the contrary it's dead wrong. With an ABM MDGE established it doesn't take much money to simply add more interceptors to the system. As i've said, they only cost 10 percent of the cost of the system as a whole.

Besides, GBIs have less components that need to be mass produced when compared to ICBMs. To say the least when it comes to the industrial infrastructure necessary for ICBM production as well. It's not just the missile that has to be made, but the fissionable material that has to be created and weaponized. A process that still remains complex to this day, and can still be prone to faults.

This is just curiosity, but what are these countries? I thought it was only the US, Russia, China, Israel and Japan that were in this game.


The US, Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Turkey, Israel, Japan, Germany, France, the UK, Italy, Taiwan, Singapore, Iran, S. Korea, and a couple of others I can remember.

Plus plenty of others like Thailand, Indonesia, Saudi Arabia, and Egypt that want to buy ABM systems from any of those countries that's willing to sell them.

Secondly, as I've said I am still skeptical about this idea that ABM is going to make the ICBM obsolete.



I was too when I first heard about it.

However, if tensions increase and treaties like SORT are thrown out the window and ICBMs are MIRVed, then counterforce targetting becomes a rational use of resources and railmobile ICBMs will certainly have higher survivability than silo-based, which are already very vulnerable due to amazing increases in precision.


Rail mobile ICBMs are more expensive, and just as vulnerable (if not more) due to increases in the precision of guidance systems.

What, the deterrant? Well, Russia's entire nuclear arsenal.


Oh ok. As long as I needn't remind you all the points i've made about the weaknesses and changes of the Russian nuclear arsenal that don't make it nearly as potent today as it once was.

Nonetheless, it should be noted that there were some serious debates within the US military/political establishments about whether there existed a missile gap with the USSR.


Nonsense. It was mindless political rhetoric propagated by the Kennedy campaign in the late 50s in order to get elected to the Presidency. JFK milked the whole "missile gap" fabircation specifically for domestic consumption. Watch one of JFK's campaign speeches sometime, the whole missile gap talking point was a cornerstone of his take on foreign policy issues.

Now don't get me wrong, there was a missile gap b/w the US and USSR at the time, but it wasn't the US that was behind. Hell, as i've mentioned, by the time of the Cuban Missile Crisis the US had a 16:3 ratio of nuclear weapons superiority over the Soviets.

That, I'd think, was the main impetus to the Americans building huge numbers of offensive systems in the 1950's, rather than vague ideas about running the Soviet economy into the ground


And yet...it wasn't. The Truman and Eisenhower Administrations practically laid the foundations for US strategic nuclear posture in the early stages of the Cold War.

First with the huge build up of strategic bombers (back when they were the principal nuclear weapons delivery platform), the Army's pentomic divisions, the short lived nuclear artillery formations, and so on.

For instance, look at SAC:

SAC OOB 1946: (148 B-29, 85 P-51, 31 F-2, 15 C-54) About 30 of the B-29s were configured to carry nuclear weapons.

SAC OOB 1947: (319 B-29, 230 P-51, 120 P-80, 9 C-54, and 35 F-2, F-9, F-13, and FB-17)

SAC OOB 1948: (35 B-36, 35 B-50, 486 B-29, 131 F-51, 81 F-82, 24 RB-17, 30 RB-29, 4 RC-45, 11 C-54)

SAC OOB 1949: (390 B-29, 36 B-36, 99 B-50, 67 KB-29, 62 RB-29, 18 RB-17, 19 C-54, 11 C-82, 5 YC-97, 80 F-86, 81 F-82)

SAC OOB 1950: (38 B-36s and 20 RB-36s, 195 B-50s, 282 B-29s, 130 KB-29s,
19 RB-50s, 46 RB-29s, 27 RB-45s, 4 C-82s, 14 C-97s, 19 C-124s, and 167 F-84s)

SAC OOB 1951: (96 B-36s and 63 RB-36s, 216 B-50s, 346 B-29s, 10 B47s, 185 KB-29s, 22 KC-97s, 40 B/RB-45s, 40 RB-50s, 32 RB-29s, 4 C-82s, 36 C-124s,
and 75 F-84s).

It's not until 1951, that the Post-WWII de-mobilization and retooling buildup actually gain credible momentum of actually striking the Soviet Union in overwhelming numbers (159 R/B-36s), and with aircraft which don't get launched on one way suicide trips from the UK.

From that point on SAC continues to grow exponentally, hitting 1,000+ R/B-47s by 1954, aside from the first B-52 airframes that had begun to roll out.

(note that the CIA continually overestimated the Soviet economy's growth and capabilities).


The fact of the matter is that George Kennan didn't, and he had more influence in terms of forming US grand strategy against the USSR than the CIA did.

But is it a fact that the efficiency, in monetary terms, of a defensive shield rises anywhere as quickly as building more/better delivery systems?


Yes, especially with regards to the parallel adavancements that would've been made in guidance systems and computing power. Once the MDGE would've been established then expanding on it further would've been reltively inexpensive. Unfortunately that didn't occur.

Furthermore, it should be noted that the vast majority of Soviet military expenditure was still focused on its massive conventional forces. Presumably, has the US gone ahead with ABM full-on, the nuclear forces would have expanded, the conventional shrunk and a war, had it come, would have been all the more devastating.


Nuclear war in that period would've been devastating regardless, but that wouldn't have changed the fact that the Soviets would still have been playing catch up with the US up into the mid-70s.

I consider planning per se leads to contradictions and collapse, in the later stages of industrialization when it becomes too hard to fix prices on millions rathen than tens of thousands of goods. I also think democratization was both a product of increasing affluence, and internal built-up frustrations about corruption and slow growth, rather than anything the West did.


Again, if that's your opinion about the events that led to the USSR's collapse then you're free to go with it. I didn't mean to say that the US policy of containment against the Soviets was solely what led to the fall of the Berlin Wall in '89. In my own opinion there's no single event that could've led to it's collapse, but it certainly can't be denied that the overall US strategy played its part very well and should be given it's due diligence.

Because as it stands, the a) US ABM as it stands today is almost entirely useless against a Russian first strike and b) the US has shown no proclivity to launching a disarming first strike of its own. But these things can change.


It's more than capable of deflecting a Chinese first strike, why haven't they raised their alert status? Besides, as i've already mentioned more than a couple times now, it'd be rather inexpensive for the ABM missile screen to be thickened. So, when (not if) it is, if the Russians still don't raise their alert levels then will you be convinced? Or what about when the first ABM sites go up in Eastern Europe?

Not to mention that you haven't really addressed countries outside of the US and Russia.
By AmericanPatriot
#1453525
They want one base? Hell, give 'em two. You can never trust the Russians anyway, those slippery bastards. Pretty soon they'll lodge a knife deep in the back of America...Not the first mistake they'll make, but it'll probably be the last. We need as much missle defense around the Ruskies as possible. (And North Korea/Iran as well.)
User avatar
By W01f
#1454272
Putins stance:


I have to admit, his argument is a hell of a lot better than America's "hurr Iran is a threat to Europe" argument, or the "they elected the government so the government can do whatever it wants against the citizens will" cop out to democracy.

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